Pushing Ourselves to the Limit: A Look at Some of the Causes of Stress

By Alexis Wadowski



Stress is an unavoidable part of our life. In this fast pace society with all the hassles, deadlines, frustrations and demands, it is more than an integrated part of American culture—it has become a way of life. Stress is the normal reaction we have to the events in our lives that threaten or upset our normal balance of things. Small amounts of stress are actually healthy and can be quite motivating, whereas large amounts of stress can be harmful. Many would even say that stress-related problems are becoming more prevalent.

The good stressors can promote positive performance. It keeps one on their feet during a presentation or makes you study for a midterm. It is what keeps you focused, energized and alert.

“Stress is a motivator when all other options are moot,” is what Waheed Moeed, a junior,  thinks about positive stressors. It can motivate us to perform our best when it really counts, but stress can also have harmful effects. Especially for college students, there is an incredible amount of stressors that exist in our lives. Junior Abrar Mohiuddin says, “Stress makes you feel physically and mentally drained.  Sometimes there’s just so much stress that it no longer motivates; you don’t want to work anymore.”

College students have to worry about grades, extra curricular activities, family obligations, research and volunteering. If classes weren’t already hard enough, the increasing demand for graduate degrees require great achievements in all of these areas.  If balancing all these activities weren’t hard enough, graduate school applications and interviews need to be added to many’s schedules too. BenU junior Obaid Shah says that “there is stress regardless of your major, sometimes it is unnecessary stress. There is a lot of things in life, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming—that is when these problems come in.”

Too much stress can cause a variety of symptoms. They include: memory loss, moodiness, depression, self-isolation, ulcers, nausea, nervous habits, change in appetite and many more. This leaves the question, how much stress is actually too much? This limit is different for each person, and knowing your limit is an important aspect of dealing with your stress. Some people thrive on a high-stress life while others can deal with little to no stress. Stress can have long-term complications on your health if it becomes a recurring problem. These problems include: obesity, depression, eczema, sleep problems, heart disease and digestion problems. Learning how to manage your stress is a critical part of avoiding these symptoms.

Stress can be both self-generated and external. Self-generated aspects of stress have roots in your attitude. Pessimistic outlooks are a major cause of stress. Perfectionism and a lack of assertiveness also cause stress. Correcting your outlook on these situations can alleviate the stress in your life significantly. Many times it is not about the situation, but your attitude that causes all these harmful symptoms. Overall, stress is an unavoidable part of life. By not letting it control you, you can maintain a clear head when making decisions and avoid many harmful health problems.

Students studying in the Krasa Center. Photo by Becca Flynn.