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Student stress puts health at risk: psychologists

Lorraine Sindel, Staff Reporter

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It’s that time of semester again where the stress levels — and caffeine intake — is on the rise.

But the stress can do more than just leave you sleepless, according to psychologists — it can have major health implications.

Students are the biggest stressors in Australia, according to a recent Australian Psychological Society study, and therefore at risk of developing health problems.

 

If left unaddressed, stress can cause major health problems such as sleep issues, digestive problems, depression, anxiety, weight gain or loss, skin conditions, auto immune diseases and more.

Naturopathic Practitioner, Ms Kylie Robshaw, recommends her patients use techniques like guided mediation and deep breathing exercises to help regulate the central nervous system and decrease the amount of stress hormones produced during stressful periods.

Stress can manifest itself in different ways. The emotional and physical signs of stress are usually easily recognised: feeling down, headaches or other body aches and pains, diarrhoea or constipation, difficulty breathing, nausea, low immunity system triggering frequent colds, flus or cold sores.

Our body’s reaction to stress helps us rise to challenges by providing extra adrenaline and heightened senses. If sustained over longer periods of time, however, the “fight or flight” mode we go into to combat stress can have a negative impact on our mind and body.

Ms Robshaw told ECU Daily that simple things can help us de-stress.

“Decrease the amount of caffeine [consumed], get adequate sleep, exercise, and cut out sugar because it places more stress on the central nervous system,” she said.

These measures can reduce the amount of stress hormones our body produces, and help to return our bodies to their natural (non-stressed) state.

With exams approaching, student stress levels are likely on the rise, but exams don’t have to be stressful if you are adequately prepared.

ECU student Cassandra Elliott says she likes to allow plenty of time to study and uses flash cards.

“I focus on one thing at a time, and reward myself by going for a walk, seeing friends or going to the movies when I accomplish tasks,” Ms Elliott told ECU Daily.

Psychotherapist and counsellor Ms Victoria Morrissey says that socialising can assist with the regulation of moods and reduce anxiety, and advises engaging in enjoyable activities so there is a balance with studying.

Edith Cowan University has some helpful information sheets on managing stress and staying calm during exams, and also provide counselling services to students.

If you are feeling highly stressed please seek immediate professional advice.

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Student stress puts health at risk: psychologists