Stress is thought to be a crisis relating to lifestyle and it was previously believed that students don’t have any problems and reasons to be stressed as all they have to do is study, something not viewed as stressful. Stress however can impact any one of us at any developmental stage of life. Academic stress is a combination of environmental stressors, and how a student might evaluate and react to them.
It is increasingly recognised as a significant concern due to the impact it has on students’ mental health. Alarmingly, academic stress can lead many university students to take their own lives, due to the pressures they feel, if for example they fail exams, or feel unable to live up to parental expectations.
Sleep becomes impacted when we experience stress, especially when it is related to particular worries. This means you may find it difficult to fall asleep easily, or you might wake up throughout the night, or wake up early with worries on your mind.
When people are feeling preoccupied and distracted by worries, they are unable to relax. This means they find it difficult to be present, and will experience a sense of detachment. For example, you may have experienced reading a book and coming to the end of a page without taking in anything you’ve read. This can also happen in social settings with other, we are there, but we aren’t.
Academic stress occurs due to changes, for example, more responsibility, and the fears associated with grades and the ability to achieve. As the pressures mount, students will often start to feel overwhelmed by the build up.
When we are overwhelmed, we are not easily able to regulate our emotions and mood very well. This is often noticed by others who may experience us as irritable, when for example, we snap at them.
When people are feeling pressure a lot of the time, they can start to become overwhelmed by it. This makes relaxing almost impossible, and means life is hard to enjoy.
When people are stressed they often experience difficulties with concentration. This is due to a variety of compounding effects. For example, stress and the worry that underpins it can impact sleep. When sleep is affected, so are cognitive abilities, including the ability to focus and concentrate.
You might find yourself experiencing a perpetual state of stress anxiety, such that it becomes your normal state. Others will often notice this about you and may perceive you as a generally stressed or anxious person.
Academic stress is often underpinned by a sense of worry. Those who experience it will tend to worry a lot, often feeling preoccupied. This only exacerbates matters because stress and worry take energy, and impact capability, only adding to the problem.
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