According to the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University, “In survey after survey, Americans identify stress as their number one health concern today. More than 50% of adults in the U.S. report high stress on a daily basis. Untreated, stress can seriously affect performance, health, and well-being.” Some experts believe that 60% or more of visits to general practitioners are for stress-related causes.
Stress can be defined as the body’s automatic physiologic reaction to circumstances that require behavioral adjustments. But many people don’t realize that stress is not always triggered by “negative” events or adjustments. Actually, anything that requires change creates stress – a promotion, graduation, or marriage, as well as failing a course, the death of a beloved pet, or a confrontation with a professor, all cause stress.
For most of us, stress is a fact of life. We may experience it more intensely on some days than on others, but, basically, it is with us most of the time. While stress is unavoidable, we often overlook or minimize its impact on us, especially during the college years when most people believe that not much can “really” harm them.
Although stress that we experience in the short term – preparing for a difficult exam, the break-up of a significant relationship, a job or graduate school interview – is not likely to be harmful and can even help activate us to be more alert and ready for the task at hand, long-term stress can be very damaging to our bodies, including our immune system, making us actually more susceptible to illness and disease. In addition, stress makes it harder for us to focus on solutions and blocks or reduces our ability to think clearly and learn effectively, to respond emotionally and sexually, and to perform normal bodily functions like respiration, digestion and healthy blood circulation.
Fortunately, there has been a great deal of recent research on stress and that has led to new and very effective ways to control or minimize it in daily life.
In the Counseling and Wellness Center, we offer a number of ways to help people deal with stress including individual counseling and psychotherapy, meditation and mindfulness training, group discussions, and presentations on stress-reducing techniques. These are often conducted in dorms or fraternities or sororities, or in the Center. Please contact us at (860) 297-2415 for more information.