College students and stress. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies.
Edinboro University students, however, will be able to take a stress management course during the spring 2016 semester.
According to a 2008 study by the Associated Press and mtvU, 80 percent of college students say they experience stress on a daily basis.
Sophomore Kevin Motko spends some weekends working on homework, one time hitting nine hours in one day. A graphic design student, he has reading assignments for certain classes, tests to study for in others and projects to complete for hands-on art courses.
“When you are on a deadline that can be stressful,” he said. “You have to get it right if you’re a perfectionist like me.”
He doesn’t know a world without stress. He says there’s no single thing that causes him the most stress, it’s everything.
“Life,” he says. “Need I say more?”
The stress management course will begin by defining what stress is, and then, it will dive deeper into topics related to stress and stress management.
The class will explain the short-term effects on physical, mental and emotional health, and it will also cover long-term effects from chronic stress. It will show students how to avoid stress and how to cope with it. It will explain how stress affects people throughout their life, but there is an entire section of the course set aside to focus on stress for college students.
It will discuss things like time management, test taking strategies and study skills that students can apply to their lives as they are taking the course.
“I think the biggest thing is that college sort of compounds stress,” said Dr. Amy Barrall, the professor in the health and physical education department who will teach the course.
“Being a college student by itself is stressful, but when you add students who have to work part-time jobs or full-time on top of that, students who don’t have reliable transportation and students who don’t have supportive home lives, that can add stress to an already academically stressful environment.”
Additionally, Barrall says that college students have more ways to deal with stress poorly.
“It’s easier to go to the bar; it’s easier to stay up late with your friends, watch movies and not do your homework,” she said. “There’s more opportunities to mismanage stress in college than maybe in the real world.”
Even if students don’t mismanage the stress they have, a lack of sleep and poor diet can contribute to stress. According to Barrall, if students aren’t keeping their bodies healthy, they won’t be able to handle stressful situations the same way they might have been able to if their bodies were properly nourished.
Dr. Laura Miller, professor and chairperson of the health and physical education department, came up with the idea several years ago when the department was revising the program.
She had taken a stress management class as a free elective while studying as an undergraduate student and felt that it was particularly beneficial for her.
The original proposal included a stress management class, but it wasn’t approved.
But, that didn’t discourage Miller.
“I just hung on to it because I thought, ‘a college campus without a stress management class, that seems crazy,’” she said.
After surveying students, however, Miller saw that one of the classes in the health promotion major wasn’t considered to be “helpful,” according to student feedback.
“After hearing this for a while, I thought we needed to make a change,” Miller said.
That’s when she suggested replacing it with the stress management class.
“It was something I wanted to do a couple years ago,” she said, “but I guess the timing was right just now.”
The stress management class will be offered this spring on Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. It is now considered
a requirement for students studying health promotions, but any student can take it as a free elective.
“I have a feeling we are going to be offering it every semester,” Miller said, “because I have a feeling it will fill every semester."
Tracy Geibel is the Campus Life Editor of The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org