Campus creates major issues

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Campus creates major issues

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April 24, 2007
By KATY MATLOCK
Contributor
Before April 16, the topic of stress at Baylor University could have provoked yawns in its predictability.

With final exams, social pressures and looming career goals as the ingredients, stress was an inevitable dish served up to college students across the nation. Occasionally, some deaths that are stress-related suggested a deeper problem stalking the shoulders of students. But in general, the consensus seemed to be that stress is a fact of life on college campuses.

On April 16, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old English major at Virginia Tech University, killed himself and 32 of his fellow "Hokie Birds."

The university shooting shocked the nation and threw a new stressor onto students' plates.

Over the next few weeks, students on the Baylor campus at the least will be coping with passing final exams, starting summer jobs and accepting a tragedy that shattered a fellow university's campus bubble. In addition, students may be facing difficult situations at home, financial struggles or post-graduation uncertainty.

As trite as it may seem, there are some helpful ways that students can persevere and even embrace life during the stress of the next few weeks.

Rachel Farris, a graduate student from St. Louis, includes a section on stress management in her Health and Human Behavior classes.

She encourages students to include short, fun activities in their schedules.

"Some of my students schedule times in their day to have a stress break where they might color, listen to music, work on art, read or write," Farris said.

Farris also applies these practices in her own life.

"I try to take regular breaks in my schedule to do things that I enjoy," she said.

In these breaks, she said, she may read, write, exercise or listen to music. She limits her breaks to less than an hour so that the break itself relieves rather than compounds her stress, she said.

Corpus Christi sophomore Patrick Roberts allows himself a break one day a week.

"If I don't get that one day off a week, my study time isn't as efficient," he said.

Roberts said he feels for the families affected by the Virginia Tech shootings.

"It was a horrible thing that happened," he said.

However, he said, he isn't personally stressed about it.

"I feel pretty safe on Baylor's campus as far as things like that go," he said.

Some stress can be a healthy motivator for students.

"The problem occurs when we have too much stress, or we do not handle our stress well," Farris said.

Kerry Mauger also teaches sections of Health and Human Behavior.

"Sometimes students spend more time stressing over what they have to do instead of focusing on doing it, which increases the feeling," said Mauger, a graduate student from Angora Hills, Calif.

She said that students also sometimes use alcohol and drugs to cope with stress.

Exercise, sleep and healthy eating habits consistently prove to be significant factors in combating stress. These tend to be the behaviors that students neglect during stressful times, said Carmen Boulton, a Santa Barbara, Calif., graduate student.

Boulton teaches Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Relaxation and Fitness.

"Not taking care of your body is common," Boulton said. "Trying to function on very little sleep, caffeine and no or poor quality food definitely affect performance in a negative way.

"I think one of the most common ways that we deal with stress is avoidance, which in the long run just makes any situation worse when we get up to the last minute and have not prepared enough," Boulton said.

Dallas junior Katie Richardson said going to the lake by her house to sit and meditate helps her when she's feeling stressed.

"Don't stress about things you can't do anything about," she said.

The most common source of stress in her life is finances, Richardson said, and her most common means of handling stress is prayer.

"You've just got to put it in God's hands," Richardson said. "But when you do, you have to really let it go and leave it in his hands."

Against the backdrop of Baylor's Christian heritage, many students on campus rely on their faith during stressful circumstances.

"I believe that faith has a strong place within stress management," Farris said. "Faith can give an individual guidance on how to prioritize the things in life.

Keeping a good perspective on what is important can help minimize stress by allowing that individual to accept when they have committed all that they can afford to commit to an aspect of their life."

Boulton said it is reassuring to know that God is in control during stressful situations.

"Planning specific time to give to God can help keep school in perspective and remind us that there is a lot more going on and we are part of a much bigger plan," she said.

Kyle Dunn, college pastor at Highland Baptist Church, said the college ministry encourages students to turn to prayer and to their Christian friendships amid stress. Dunn, a Baylor alumnus, has worked predominantly with college students in Waco for seven and a half years.

In light of the Virginia Tech shooting, it is particularly important for students not to go through this stressful season alone, he said.

Students can find companionship in the church, Dunn said.

During the upcoming study days, the department will set up a place for students to study in the Highland church building.

On Sunday the college department presented a message titled, "Tragedy and Hope."

"We're really trying to encourage the students," Dunn said.

Dunn said Factors outside of academic life, such as interpersonal relationships with the opposite sex and circumstances at home, can contribute to students' stress.

The Baylor counseling center has included a link to several Web sites to help students cope with traumatic stress after the Virginia Tech shootings. Students who would like to speak with a counselor can call the Baylor counseling center at 254-710-2467.

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Original Source: The Lariat
<a href="http://www.baylor.edu/Lariat/news.php?action=story&story=45462">http://www.baylor.edu/Lariat/news.php?action=story&story=45462</a>

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KATY MATLOCK

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2008-02-05

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Kacey Beddoes

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Julie Freeman (Julie_Freeman@baylor.edu)

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eng

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KATY MATLOCK, "Campus creates major issues," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1653, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1653 (accessed October 25, 2014).