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The importance of dealing with stress

Stress is an individual’s reaction to the demand for change. Being on a college campus creates an environment for high stress. As great as UMBC is, it is still subject to this environment. From deciding what to major in, to maintaining good academic performance and following an academic plan, students are constantly bombarded with the need to adapt to change.

Stress has a powerful effect on the health of one’s brain and body. The National Institute of Mental Health cited that in 2015, almost 30 percent of college students experienced profound depression that interfered with their daily life.

Human response to stress in short-term situations is advantageous and can even be life-saving. However, living in a constant state of stress for weeks or months is extremely damaging to the body and brain. Raised stress levels for prolonged periods can take a toll on the immune system and decrease the effectiveness of short-term memory.

In addition to the negative effects on physical health, stress can also cause damage to mental health. Students can easily confuse the signs of depression with stress. Therefore, it is essential to address symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness or sadness if they persist for longer than two weeks.

UMBC’s Counseling Center provides a host of resources for navigating the challenges one may face in college. Screenings and talk therapy are available to students for free. The Mind Spa is another great place to go to take a break from UMBC’s fast paced campus. The spa is located in the Counseling Center and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

It is crucial for students to be educated about the effects of stress on mental health and healthy ways to cope. Without adequate support, many students may feel the need to drop out of school. According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment survey, 30 percent of students reported that their stress had negatively influenced their academic performance.  These statistics support the fact that stress in college is not something to be dismissed.

College stress is especially hard for new students. Ami Sumareh, a freshman biology major, is already worried about the timeliness of her graduation date. “Finishing in four years stresses me out,” she said, “just knowing what I want to do at the end of everything.”

As a student who has faced these types of stresses in the past, Aminata Tolbert, a sophomore economics and biology double major, has some direct advice for freshmen like Ami. “Freshmen who are stressed about the future need to deal with things as they come,” she said.

UMBC also provides departmental advising for those who need help with deciding which classes to take next or with creating a realistic four-year plan. Information about contacting specific department advisors can be found on UMBC’s website.

As a student at UMBC, you will never have to carry your stress alone. Your advisors, professors and peers are all available to help.