Stress Relief: Why Standard Advice For Dealing With College Stress Is Outdated

by Doc Orman, M.D.


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This coming April is Stress Awareness Month, and I have chosen to focus on the problem of college stress during this 30-day awareness period.  In my previous post, I told you why I think it’s important to focus on helping college students better understand how to think about and deal with stress more effectively.

Today, I’m going to explain why I believe that much (but not all) of the existing advice for coping with college stress is both ineffective and outdated.

What Is Standard Advice For Coping With Stress In College?

Most existing advice for coping with college stress centers on the following common types of problems:

  • The stress of choosing and getting into college
  • Freshman stress (adjustment challenges)
  • General academic anxiety and workload
  • Test/Exam anxiety
  • Social stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Bullying (including cyber-bullying)
  • Violence (including the fear of violence)

While it is sometimes necessary, and often beneficial, for college students to seek out competent mental health professionals/therapists to help them work through any major stress issues they might be having, there is a ton of self-help advice for dealing with college stress available as well.

Examples of such self-help advice include:

  • Create a quiet work-space where you can concentrate without distractions.
  • Create a system to keep organized (note taking, assignments, exam dates).
  • Try to manage your time well (study times, break times, social time).
  • Learn to practice relaxation and other stress management techniques.
  • Learn to use visualization and mental imagery.
  • Be vigilant about making sure you get enough sleep.
  • Don’t overuse alcohol, illegal drugs, food or other chemicals to cope.
  • Keep junk foods to a limit and try to eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Learn effective study skills and develop good study habits.
  • Think optimistically and maintain a positive attitude.

Sound familiar?  This is pretty much the same type of standard self-help advice you’ve probably received, ad-nauseum, to cope with your own stress, both during and after college.

Why Is Most Of The Available Self-Help Advice About Stress Outdated?

While most of the existing self-help advice about stress makes sense, and while it would certainly help if faithfully followed, it usually doesn’t go deep enough.  It’s mostly directed at controlling the student’s external environment, minimizing external stressors, improving diet, exercising and using relaxation techniques, etc.

It doesn’t really get at the heart of the matter.  It doesn’t help students to better understand, appreciate, and do battle with their internal causes of stress.  Sure external factors, such as having noisy or inconsiderate roommates, being bullied or being made fun of by others, and not being well-organized clearly play a role.  But why do some students deal very well with noisy roommates, while others give up and decompensate?  And why do some students deal with bullying better than others, and if you’re not very well-organized, then what’s going on within you that’s keeping you from manifesting these very beneficial skills?

You see, it’s the internal factors that are most important to address, because these are the ones we all have much more control over.  And most self-help advice about dealing with the internal causes of college stress (and stress in general) is either non-existent, or it approaches these causes in ways that are outdated or mostly ineffective.

NOTE: I’m not saying that certain types of internal causes of stress are never addressed in self-help resources.  Rather, I am pointing out that this information needs to be presented in more empowering ways, and it also needs to become more valued and much more widespread.

What Type Of Advice For Coping With College Stress Would Be Better?

I believe that we need to completely revise the way we’ve been teaching young people to think about and deal with stress.  We need to critically examine our “common sense” notions about what stress really is, what causes it to occur for human beings, and what our best coping options are for dealing with it.

If you’ve been following this stress relief blog for very long, you already know this is a recurrent theme that I’ve been expressing repeatedly.  And I’m going to keep on expressing it as long as there are millions of people around who could benefit from such a soul-searching exercise.

That’s why I recently created a new, entirely free, 173-page, downloadable PDF e-book called College Stress Relief: What Every Student Should Know (And Spread Around) ASAP!  If you want to know my thoughts on what we should be teaching students about stress in college, then all you have to do is check out this free, downloadable e-book (to be officially released Monday 4/2/12).

If you took my earlier advice and downloaded and read the four free introductory PDF stress mastery trainings I make available on this website, you’ll see that I incorporated much of this same information in the e-book I produced for college students.  I also added, at the end of the College Stress Relief e-book, an additional opportunity, only for students who may be interested, to go even deeper than this introductory level of training by accessing one of my very best advanced stress mastery training programs at a greatly reduced price.

I’ve even created a way for students who want to do this advanced training to be able to do so for free, by earning small referral fees for doing very little more than simply sharing the free College Stress Relief e-book with other students.  This is sometimes referred to as “going viral,” and this is precisely my intention for this free e-book, which I believe can help many, many college students all across the country to both update and improve their most basic understandings about human stress.

If you’d like to get an advance copy of this e-book for yourself, to look at or to pass on to any college students you may know,  just come back to this blog on Friday, March 30, 2012, and I will give you a download link.  And if you like what you see, you are welcome to duplicate this e-book and send it to as many people as you like.

The official e-book launch will take place on Monday, April 2, 2012, via a series of widespread press releases.  So if you want to get an advance copy before most others do, I hope to see you back here in two days from now.

Enter Your Name And Email Below To Get Instant Access To This Content-Packed, Eye-Opening, 24-page Report

 

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