The Forgotten One
Join Date: March 27, 2005
This will help!!!!
The key to a happy and healthy life
The years of adolescence and young adulthood are ones of upheaval, change, and growth. How you meet the challenges of these years will to some extent determine your future life. Learning the skills needed to handle emotional problems will give you a foundation of mental and emotional health.
Emotional health has many aspects. Put simply, it is based on self-esteem-how you feel about yourself-and behavior that is appropriate and healthy. Someone who is emotionally healthy:
* Understands and adapts to change
* Copes with stress
* Has a positive self-concept
* Has the ability to love and care for others
* Can act independently to meet his or her own needs
Everyone, including people who are emotionally healthy, has problems. Emotionally healthy people are able to adjust to and solve problems, and in doing so they help others as well as themselves to get satisfaction out of life.
Joanne was having more headaches as the semester progressed. She had had occasional headaches before but now was having them almost every other day. They got worse whenever she had a run-in with her roommate or a deadline in class. Aspirin didn't help. Over the holiday break at home, her headaches disappeared. When she got back to college and the headaches resumed, she went to the medical center.
She thought she might be allergic to something at college or that she needed to have her eyes checked. The medical test results were normal, although the doctor found some spasm and tightness in her neck muscles. He suggested that she might be under stress and advised a program of muscle relaxation and time management. He also suggested ways she could work out some of the problems with her roommate. After applying some of the techniques she learned over the next few weeks, Joanne had fewer headaches and thought she was studying better.
This section focuses on common problems - stress, time management, anxiety, depression, anger, and thoughts of suicide - and ways to approach and solve these problems.
What is stress?
Stress is a mental, emotional, physical, and often behavioral response to a wide variety of stimulants. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not necessarily caused by an acutely upsetting event. The term actually refers to demands placed on you by everyday experiences that result in your body's arousing itself physiologically to meet those demands.
Stress is not innately negative or positive. What determines whether an event (stressor) is negative or positive is your interpretation. Facing three term paper deadlines in one week, for example, is not negative unless you interpret it that way. The significance of this point is that you can control your view of events, though not necessarily the events themselves, and thereby control stress. Stress demands, whatever their value, initiate an arousal of the mind and body. That arousal, if prolonged, can fatigue and harm an individual to the point of distress, dysfunction, and disease.
Take an analogy from physics and engineering. Stress in these fields means strain or pressure placed on a system. With some stress the system adapts or changes slightly, sometimes becoming stronger. With more stress, the system reaches the point where it will break. Human beings respond similarly.
Stress is an unavoidable part of living. To be alive is to experience the joys and frustrations of stress. Some stress is good for us, the so-called spice of life. Other stress, such as a poor grade on an exam, can be either harmful, if you interpret it in a strictly negative way, or useful, if it serves as an incentive for you to develop better study habits. Since stress is unavoidable, it's important to learn to live with it and make it work for you.
Many people mistakenly believe it is a sign of weakness or failure to admit that they experience stress. Problems develop when we don't recognize that stress is causing common difficulties and that it can successfully be managed.
Does everyone react to stress the same way?
There are great individual variations in how people perceive and respond to stress. Some people seem to thrive on deadlines; others get anxious. For instance, a deadline for a class assignment may help you organize a schedule to get the paper done. It may cause someone else to become upset, procrastinate, lose sleep worrying, and finally stay up all night trying to finish the project.
How the body and mind react to a given stressor is different for each person. Too much stress, however, clearly results in too much arousal and eventual dysfunction.
Stress is more than an isolated incident. It is the product of many aspects of your lifestyle and environment. To reduce or manage stress and its potentially detrimental effects, you can change many aspects of your lifestyle. You can do this by learning techniques to reduce external stress, to manage your own internal causes of stress, and to handle acute stress.
What are the dangers of not controlling stress?
Continued stress puts a burden on the body and the mind that can result in your not performing your best. If the stress goes unrecognized and unresolved, it can wear you out and cause various physical and emotional symptoms that you may blame on other sources. It can result in your becoming physically ill or even having an emotional breakdown.
Hans Selye, a Canadian scientist who is the father of stress research, theorized in the 1930s that the body adapts to stress in three stages:
1. Alarm as the body is aroused
2. Resistance as the body tries to adapt to continued stress
3. Exhaustion as, with continuing stress, the body reaches the end of its abilities to handle stress
Because your body's ability to live with stress is not unlimited, there is a point at which you reach exhaustion. If your body cannot eliminate stress or manage it in a positive way, the system is overloaded and exhaustion is inevitable.
Whenever you experience a stressor, whether it is the physical stress of being caught in a blizzard or the emotional stress of breaking up with a close friend, your body unconsciously initiates an intricate set of physiological responses called the fight-or-flight reaction.
Our physiology hasn't changed much since prehistoric times, so the body's nervous system and hormones automatically gear up to fight or flee the approaching danger, although fighting or fleeing is not a useful response to most types of stress encountered today. If the body is not able to discharge the energy built up by this activation, or if stress continues past the initial alarm stage, you enter the resistance stage. Your mind and body remain aroused by stress.
At this stage you may recognize stress and its resultant emotional and physical arousal, but you may not connect it to physical illness or emotional changes. We adapt and get used to the state of arousal to the extent that it no longer feels unusual. Because our minds and bodies are so adaptable, hyperarousal is not recognized as a potential problem. We have lost the ability to recognize imbalance and restore balance until there is some recognized problem at the exhaustion stage, when the body sends a message of distress that our minds have been trying to deny or to cope with.
What makes college so stressful?
College is a unique environment that has its own built-in joys and stresses. It may be helpful to realize that there are new and more complex demands in college. Being aware of them can help you learn strategies to reduce them.
One prime stressor in college is the lack of time to accomplish everything you would like to do. Each professor seems to expect you to devote all your time to his or her class alone. You also have commitments to personal life, social events, and clubs or organizations to which you belong. Learning time-management skills can help you balance all your roles.
In college, competition is more intense than in high school. It seems to exist in all areas-for space in a popular course, for grades, for getting a desirable dorm room and a parking place, for getting dates-leaving you feeling overwhelmed. This generalized stress can make it difficult for you to perform effectively in your academic or social life. Look at your college or university and try to determine which competitive stressors are acting on you.
The living situation in many colleges creates a lot of stress. The housing is often crowded, noisy, with an inherent lack of privacy and uncomfortable chairs, desks, and beds. There are the expectations of friends, family, and hometown high school teachers and counselors to live up to. There may be the stress of being separated from family, home, and close friends you grew up with. There is usually a fair amount of financial pressure for college students, with limited economic resources for entertainment, transportation, and even food and books.
To meet academic demands, many students may start living a life of all work and no play. You may spend all your free time in the library, studying until later hours but not getting any better grades than do your friends who seem to party all the time. The fact is that without some breaks for relaxation and recreation, you do not study so effectively. Study breaks, whether they are fun distractions like going to a movie, a party, or a football game or going for a jog, are needed to get balance in your life. They will renew your enthusiasm for studying.
Social stressors are common in college. There is a natural desire to be accepted and liked by a new peer group. There may be pressure to conform in dress, attitudes, and activities. Concerns about rejection, failure, and inadequacy in a highly competitive environment are huge stressors.
The people staffing campus counseling centers are aware of these pressures and often have discussion groups or seminars on techniques to cope with the problems. They may target a certain group-for example, students with weak academic backgrounds. Sometimes summer programs are offered to bring them up to the expected academic levels.
The social stressors are more subtle and may best be managed by finding your own niche in college. Try not to pressure yourself by matching yourself against others' popularity, trendy clothes, and cars. These superficial measures tend to shift from one semester to another.
Another common source of stress is career anxiety. With competitio