Coping aids in student stressors

By Xavier Johnson, Web Editor

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At a community college, most students find themselves performing the role of an acrobat balancing coursework, familial responsibilities and work.

With so much on a student’s plate, it’s difficult to fit necessary factors like self-care and other mindful practices into a schedule.

According to the National College Health Assessment, 57 percent of 24,999 college students surveyed said they felt overwhelmed by all they had to do within the preceding two weeks and 45 percent said they felt like they experienced more than average stress.

In order to relieve the growing stress among college students many turn to various useful coping strategies.

According to the American Psychological Association, a coping strategy is an action, a series of actions or a thought process used to meet a stressful or unpleasant situation or modify one’s reaction to such a situation.

Before developing a strategy to help with stress, it’s important to understand the specific challenges that are leading to stress in order to address them.

Contra Costa College counselor Kelley Cadungug said, “It’s most effective for me to identify not only what the challenges are, which in some cases are not expressed directly, but what the specific barriers are.”

These challenges can manifest themselves in various areas of a student’s life from basic needs such as food and shelter, academic demands or socioeconomic stressors.

Academic stressors are the front end of issues students face and with the end of the semester comes the stress of Finals Week, transferring and financial aid.

One quick method of relieving this stress is identifying the areas on campus that can help.

Cadungug said starting the semester and maintaining a comprehensive educational plan are significant in reducing academic challenges.

Tutoring is another option that’s available in the College Skills Center, in LLRC-121.

Black Student Union Secretary Elisha Patterson is in her final semester at CCC before transferring to Cal-State Sacramento. She said this last semester has been her most challenging in years and campus resources, like tutoring and the Wellness Center, have been a significant help in helping to alleviate her stress.

The Student Wellness Program is a free service that pairs students with intern psychologists from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda for up to three confidential sessions a week. Students may receive free individual counseling, or group sessions, on campus.

While tutoring and academic counseling are excellent methods to help with problems that are rooted in academics, oftentimes stress goes beyond the classroom and necessitates taking a holistic approach to one’s mental health.

The American Psychological Association recommends using relaxation techniques such as guided meditation and tension and release exercises. Other physical steps are maintaining a healthy diet, practicing consistent exercise and avoiding falling into substance abuse.

“Staying in contact with my therapist, professors and tutors to make sure I’m academically stable and up to date helps,” Patterson said.

Focusing on the positive is another recommendation. This can be accomplished through using positive speech instead of saying or thinking, “I can’t do this.”