November 29, 2017
Stress and Health
Tw: Sexual assault mention, mental health
As university students, we are exposed to stress all the time. Particularly in this season as we end midterms and assignments, and transition into the exam and holiday period, stress is as prevalent as ever. However, as students it can be easy to disregard our own health when it comes to stress, especially when we’re so used to constantly being under pressure.
Certain stress is immediate, involving short term challenges, whether it is a non-natural or natural cause. This is the kind of stress induced by an immediate project, an appointment, a natural disaster, etc. Other kinds of stress include chronic or future stressors. These kinds of stress are caused by exposure to a long-term stressor or a stressful event that is in the future – like that long-term goal of getting into grad school, having a high intensity job, or recovering from sexual assault.
As students at a world-class university there is a LOT of competition in academics, athletics, and extracurriculars that lead to large amounts of stress. This isn’t even considering any personal stressors people experience. Although UBC has many resources and is diligent in educating about self-care and mental health, I know that I, like many others, have disregarded my mental well-being many times for the sake of an assignment, a practice, or a social event.
The effects of stress are serious and long-term if not taken seriously. Since stress is the body’s way of reacting to a challenge, it influences the body’s systems to respond to the environment. It is primarily the nervous and hormonal system that are affected, and this can lead to alterations in memory functions, immune function, and metabolism. These can have short-term or long-term effects, and show in different ways in different people.
Chronic stress in particular can lead to the development of psychological and mental health issues – more seriously delusions, depression, or anxiety. Since chronic stress occurs over a long time period the body must respond to it every day, depleting energy more rapidly. If you’re wondering why university students are almost always ill, this is one of the reasons why.
Stress, though, can be managed. Coping mechanisms and strategies can be employed to eliminate or alter stressful situations. Identifying stressors can help minimize stress, being proactive about tasks, exercise, having support from loved ones…there are many unique and individual ways people manage stress. That being said, it can be difficult to fall into healthy habits and begin stress management. Some UBC resources that can help you manage stress and stay healthy this exam season are:
- The UBC Wellness Centre
- UBC Counselling Services
- UBC Student Health Service
Additional resources can be found on UBC’s website, by consulting your physician, and the SASC is open 8am-10pm 7 days a week if you ever want to come in and chat. Best of luck this exam season, and make sure to take care of yourselves!