When Stress is Too Much

School is stressful. And having a little bit of stress in your life is good—it keeps you motivated and makes life interesting. But too much stress can be unhealthy. And other times, stress is a symptom, not the problem. So, when is stress too much to handle and when is it time to figure things out? Well, let’s take a look at a couple indicators of when you might need to take your stress to a doctor.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and what I say should not be used as a reason to NOT go to a doctor. If you have any question about it at all, it is better to get it sorted out as soon as possible!

Symptoms

Here’s the real deal: typical stress has a lot of the same symptoms as many other underlying causes. Take clinical depression, for example (I am EXTREMELY passionate about depression). Both stress and depression share the symptoms of feeling bad about yourself, avoiding others, feeling overwhelmed and a lack of control, and becoming easily agitated or moody. A lot of other physical health issues have similar symptoms, as well. So, how do you know whether stress is the problem or if stress is just a symptom? My general rule of thumb for this is if you experience five differences between your normal self and your “stressed out” self, you should see a doctor. For me, if I am experiencing a difficult time sleeping, a lack of motivation, an agitated mood, and two other symptoms, I know that I need to go to my doctor! Once again, this is not all-encompassing. Even if you have just one symptom, you still have reason to go see a doctor. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Time period

Stress is usually dependent on the stressors of your life. These stressors may include family or social pressures, upcoming midterms or assignments, a lack of sleep, etc. But when the stress lasts even after the stressor is gone, you might want to take a closer look at it. My general rule of thumb is two weeks, but this is just a recommendation. If you notice any of the symptoms talked about previously that last more than two weeks, check with your doctor!

How it affects your daily life

Especially regarding mental health, a big factor in treatment is how your life is affected by the illness. But for anything in life–if you notice a decline in your grades, a decline in enjoyment in fun activities, or a decline in your social life–it may be a reason to check with your doctor. Stress should only impact your life in minor ways. In my experience, the agitated mood I used to get would negatively impact my relationships with everyone I interacted with on a daily basis. And when I realized that I was losing my friends because of my mood, I realized I needed to make a change!

And finally…

Whether the issue is stress or something more, there is help available! Check out the many resources the Counseling and Consultation Services has to offer by going to their website or by going to Let’s Talk, which offers free and confidential drop-in consultations in the Lower Level Meeting Room at the Union on Thursdays from 2:30-4:30. Or go to the Wilce Student Health Center for a check-up and overall health care. You can make an appointment online, by phone, or in person. Maybe you just need some time to relax and destress or learn about stress and time management. If this is the case, you can check out the First Year Success Series to register for a session, and get credit for your survey class!

Being stressed out in college is normal–but not a reason to deny yourself help if you become over-stressed or if you need some time to de-stress. Being proactive and listening to your body will benefit you in the long run, especially if something else is contributing to your feelings of stress. Put your wellness in a professionals hands. Your future self will thank your present self.

Your Week in First Year Success: October 6-10

While each Ohio State student has his or her own unique experience, there are aspects of that experience which are very common for many students at this point in the semester. This week, I will highlight some First Year Success Series sessions which may be applicable to many first-year students at this point in the semester.

Situation #1: “Oh no! I forgot to sign up to go to the Jeannette Walls talk for the Buckeye Book Community!”

No worries! There are several Buckeye Book Community sessions still available. A fun option is the “Buckeye Book Club Express at CCS Recess!” Counseling and Consultation Service is hosting Recess to help you reconnect with your childhood and explore the positive impact play can have on your life. Part of this event will include a chance for you to creatively reflect on the themes of The Glass Castle.

Buckeye Book Club Express at CCS Recess!
Theme: Buckeye Book Community
October 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Situation #2: “I’m really missing home and the friends and family I left behind.”

You are not the only one. Homesickness is an extremely common issue for college students which many people have written about. To successfully handle the stress of homesickness, you should address it so that you can stay connected to your home while enjoying your new surroundings at Ohio State. There is a First Year Success Series session for you to do just that!

Homesickness
Theme: Health and Wellness
October 10, 3-4 p.m.

Situation #3: “I took my first test and it was horrible! I couldn’t focus/breathe/remember what I studied.”

You may have test anxiety. Many students who are incredibly intelligent struggle when put in a testing situation. The “Test Anxiety” session can help you identify what stresses you out about test-taking and help you create strategies to help you succeed on exam day!

Test Anxiety
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration
October 8, 3-3:50 p.m.

Situation #4: “I want to learn about the technologies that will make me stand out and be a digital learner.”

In college, learning is not confined to the classroom. More often, learning is happening online through multiple platforms. By teaching yourself to be a digital learner, you will gain an additional advantage in the classroom.

Being a Digital First Buckeye
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration
October 7, 8-9 a.m.

Scenario #5: “I am an international student and I’m trying to become more aware of U.S. laws and policies.”

Coming to study in the U.S. contains additional challenges for many first-year international students. In addition to adjusting to life in college, you must adjust to a whole new culture with its own laws and rules. Come learn what laws and policies that international students should know to be successful.

International Students & U.S. Laws
Theme: Finances
October 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

It is common for first-year students to continue to experience new issues throughout the first semester of college. Don’t be afraid to seek help whenever you realize you need it. Sign up now for your First Year Success Series sessions at www.go.osu.edu/FYSS before they fill up!

Your Week in First Year Success: September 15-19

Congratulations! You have made it through your first few days of classes!  Now that you are ready to explore what the First Year Success Series has to offer, here are some sessions to consider for the first week of sessions (which begin one week from today!):

Comfort Zone
September 16, 4-5 p.m.
Theme: Health and Wellness

Are you already feeling stressed about college? You’re not the only one! This interactive session will provide an overview of stress, how to prioritize things in your life, and manage your time wisely. Join your friends from the Student Wellness Center to identify ways to relax and overcome your stress.

Book Discussion: The Glass Castle
September 17, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Theme: Buckeye Book Community

You’ve read the book. Now let’s talk about it! Join fellow first-year students to discuss the themes of The Glass Castle.  A staff member from First Year Experience will help guide your discussion while exploring the themes of the book. Attend this session before you come to see Jeannette Walls on September 23!

A+ Research: How to Structure a Term Paper
September 18, 6-7 p.m.
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration

You’ve heard that college writing will challenge you to be a better writer, but what does that mean? Come to this session and hear from an experienced Ohio State senior student about what it takes to craft a great paper in college! You will leave with tools and resources to help you get your writing to “A+” status.

Study Abroad Expo
September 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Theme: Diversity and Global Awareness

Sure, you may be interested in studying abroad while at Ohio State. But have you thought about which of the over 100 countries you will travel to for your study abroad experience? Do you know what things you should be considering now to make your study abroad dreams become a reality? Stop by this expo facilitated by the Office of International Affairs to hear from experts about what options are available to you.

Extreme Couponing
September 19, 2-3 p.m.
Theme: Finances

College can be stressful enough without worrying about finances. Come hear from two-time star of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” and Ohio State student Cole Ledford about how you can start couponing and save your money. Save your money now to save yourself from headaches later!

Of course, these are just five of the dozens of sessions offered in any given week! See all of the options online by visiting go.osu.edu/FYSS and make sure to register for your favorite sessions before they fill up! Let us know which sessions have you most excited!

The Four Things I Didn’t See Coming During My First Year

Before beginning my first year at Ohio State, I was aware of many new changes: more responsibilities, a new city, a whole new living environment, larger classes and, of course, independence. However, there were many things that I did not anticipate.

Now a ripened old senior, I hope to share a few tidbits of advice with the newest Buckeyes. I have included four problems you may not expect to run into your first year and my tips for finding a solution.

Problem: Transportation without your own car

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Perhaps Stow, Ohio isn’t bursting with things to do but my chipped and dented Honda Accord got me where I was going. For those of you who used to drive around town, dancing from your seat and blasting music from your beloved high school vehicle, be ready to say goodbye to your wheels (unless you are a lucky commuter) and say hello to the three Cs of college transportation.

Solution:

COTA: Bus transportation to the Columbus area–take the #2 to travel down High Street!

CABS: Your bus system to get you around campus–use the mobile app, OSU BUS, to find nearby routes

CARPOOLING: Need to go home for a long weekend? At such a large school chances are someone in your residence hall is from the same area or state as you, so make friends and save your parents some driving!

Problem: Balancing the little things

Often the simple things–the ones you overlook–are the most difficult to balance. Get ready for the BIG DADDY of the little things: TIME MANAGEMENT.

With new opportunities every day, so many fun things to do, and great people to meet, you may find that it is hard to follow a regular schedule. My recommendation? Take time to make trips to your favorite dining hall with friends, go for walks on the Oval, join a club or attend your campus events; however, find balance between studying, socializing and SLEEPING (in class is not the solution).

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True story: By not taking time for our health, my roommates became susceptible to illnesses and my brief bout with mono from high school came back full force to strike even harder in college! Taking time to rest could have saved me from falling asleep on my calculus final!

Solution:

Create a healthy schedule and set aside a reasonable amount of time every night to sleep. Make this a priority! If you risk starting your homework at midnight, be prepared for the exhaustion to take a toll on your body, immune system and your effectiveness in school.

Problem: Living with roommates “in sickness and in health”

One of the biggest adjustments I had to make in college was when I became ill and had to make an appointment to the doctor for the first time by myself. I was sick, lonely and absolutely TERRIFIED.

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Preventative Solutions:

  1. Be prepared for small living quarters! The common cold can spread very quickly if you aren’t diligently washing your hands and avoiding shared drinks and food.
  2. Exercise, get plenty of sleep, and eat balanced and nutritious meals.
  3. Hand sanitizer.

Proactive Solution:

Don’t be afraid to make an appointment!

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When I called ahead and made an appointment at the Wilce Student Health Center, I was warmly welcomed by the ladies at the front desk; they called me “baby” and I never wanted to leave (I may form attachments easily). I met with a wonderful doctor, received my diagnosis and was soon on my way. If you need a prescription, you can even pay at the full-service pharmacy using your BuckID cash!

Problem: Schoolwork overload

One thing that I was totally unprepared for was the amount of work I would be faced with in college.

In college, your schoolwork becomes your full-time job. Although you may only be in class for about 15 hours per week, the amount of material and homework you are expected to cover tends to amount to at least 40 hours per week. That means an average amount of 5-8 hours of additional studying every night.

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How can you succeed?

Solution:

1. BE PREPARED, BUDGET YOUR TIME: Know what is expected of you and keep up with your assignments! Make schoolwork a priority during the day and between classes so that you have more time to relax during the weekend.

2. FOLLOW THE SYLLABUS: Unlike high school where you might have had a rough outline for what you will learn during the year, college professors tend to follow the assignments and readings on the syllabus PRECISELY. You will not be reminded of the work you are expected to be completing; instead, you’ll use your syllabus to track those deadlines. You will be expected to come to lectures prepared, meaning half of the learning process is expected to take place during your own time.

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3. SEEK OUT RESOURCES: Struggle with learning things from simply reading or by yourself? Do not fear! At a large school, there are ENDLESS opportunities for you to get help. However, it falls on your shoulders to seek them out and actually show up.

  • Group study sessions: learn from your peers!
  • Office hours: weekly meeting times set aside by your professors to speak directly with them!
  • Free tutoring: in mathematics, chemistry, writing, etc. and in your own residence halls!

I hope you are as eager to begin your journey as I was and that these solutions lead to a successful first year!

With Buckeye Love,

Regina