Managing Stress and Anxiety on Campus: A Diverse Range of Options

The college student across America has one major thing in common: stress and the potential for anxiety. Knowing all of your options for treating and managing these disorders is the first step to success. According to a recent study published in March 2016 in the medical journal Depression and Anxiety titled “Individualized yoga for reducing depression and anxiety, and improving well-being”, authors Bensoussan et al. state, “Depression and anxiety are leading causes of disability worldwide.”

Stress can be easy to see on a college campus, and anxiety can be hidden beneath the surface of students racing to get homework and projects done on time while juggling the rest of their responsibilities. Finals week is no different, and can be one of the most challenging times for a college student.

The Wellness Center on Northern Kentucky University’s campus houses counselors, social workers and nurses who are available to students seeking help with these issues among many others.

Lisa Baressi, a social worker with the center, says, “Stress/anxiety is one of the most common issues that bring students to counseling. Anxiety just eclipsed depression as the most common mental health issue college students are reporting.”

NKU student Christina Tully is a double major in theatre and social work. She has had to take an intensive load of 21 credits each semester. In addition to her class work, she commits to 24 hours of rehearsals each week and will soon be starting about 25 hours of weekly volunteer social work.

Tully admits to being extremely stressed as a student, but she is also a yoga teacher outside of school. She says she often shares her struggles with mental illness with her students.

“The one thing that has helped the most is a yoga practice. Medicine should be used… to get you into a stable enough place where you can embrace the holistic stuff,” says Tully.

Most scientific studies done within the last five years are showing that doctors are seeking alternative medicines as treatment along with health care.

In an article titled “The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress” appearing in a 2012 issue of Alternative Medicine Review, authors Li and Goldsmith state that, “Efforts are underway to find non-pharmacologic therapies to relieve stress and anxiety, and yoga is one option for which results are promising.”

Understanding that a college student has many options for managing stress and treating anxiety is key. There is of course medical treatment from a doctor, which could include potential medication, but there is also a wealth of alternative options out there as well.

Studies have shown that yoga, meditation, general exercise, acupuncture and massage are excellent ways to manage stress.

In his study appearing in Depression and Anxiety, Bensoussan says that, “Yoga plus regular [doctor] care was effective in reducing symptoms of depression compared with regular care alone… Individualized yoga may be particularly beneficial in mental health care in the broader community.”

For students to succeed in school without sacrificing their mental health, it will take a village. Professors, advisors, counselors, doctors and students will have to work together to find the right balance of treatment for each individual.

As a stressed out college student, remember that aside from medical treatment and alternative medicines, you can make lifestyle changes to help manage your stress, according to Baressi in the Wellness Center. Park a little farther away from school. Take the stairs. Choose a banana or apple instead of a bag of chips. Arm yourself with all the options when seeking management of stress or treatment for anxiety.

.To learn more about the Health, Counseling, and Wellness Center on NKU's campus, please visit their website http://hcsw.nku.edu/.

To follow more on this topic and to engage in conversation on campus, visit @KaraPelicano on Twitter.

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