Campus setting provokes anxiety in students

by Staff

Students having a hard time dealing with stress may want to take a trip to the campus’ Center for Well Being. Copyright Katie Fisher / Staff Photographer

By Amy DeVito, Staff Writer

Stemming from to the copious amount of work and hectic schedules packed with lectures and labs, college usually acquaints students with a tremendous amount of stress. Even though a campus is supposed to maintain a calm and positive atmosphere, it sometimes has the opposite effect, sending some students into high-strung nervous panics in preparation for their exams. The anxiety builds, and for some, the constant pressure proves too difficult to cope with.

The causes of anxiety vary, but they sustain similar universal outcomes. Anxious feelings often result from anticipation and extensive worrying, which often stems from things such as running late for work or cramming to finish a project on time. There are several classic, school-related causes that can instigate anxiety such as fear of failure and pressure, lack of preparation and poor test history.

Restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension and difficulty sleeping are archetypal signs of anxiety disorders. Research suggests genes may be partly responsible, and one’s environment can be the trigger for these stressful experiences.

“The average age of onset for many mental health conditions is the typical college age range from 18 to 24 years old,” Courtney Knowles, executive director of The Jed Foundation, said.

The Jed Foundation is a charitable organization that aims to reduce suicide and improve mental health among college students.

“Exercise, time management and getting enough sleep can really make a difference,” Knowles responded when asked how to best cope with anxiety. “It helps to monitor schedules and stay connected with people and to build a support network.”

“On the college campus, as you would expect, stress and anxiety are usually cyclical, occurring mostly during midterms and final exams,” Dr. Jennifer Rikard, ASPIRE Program co-coordinator and psychologist at the Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, said. “Academics, finances and relationships are highly common stressors. Students often report that family conflicts, roommate problems and breakups with girlfriends or boyfriends can interfere significantly with academic demands.”

Rikard added that in a recent study, 63 percent of San Diego State students reported being interested in learning more about stress management. A newly implemented program, Cultivating Optimal Personal Experiences, is a workshop that aims to help students learn to manage all types of stress.

Individual and group therapy sessions are available, such as the Living with Loss group. Additionally, students can check out the Center for Well-Being, which prides itself as a place to help relieve stress. There is a massage chair, an egg chair, meditation stations, an aromatherapy activity, computers and other devices students can access without an appointment. The Biofeedback program helps students regulate physiological processes such as breathing and heart rate to reduce anxiety.

Although anxiety often comes with a negative connotation, some amounts of stress can be beneficial.

According to Rikard, it can be motivating for students to complete assignments or study for exams. However, higher and prolonged levels can be debilitating and have deleterious effects on health and immune system.

Experiencing some anxiety is ubiquitous in college, and although it may sometimes seem inevitable, the services offered on campus can give guidance to those in need.