Back to school also means back to stress

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LOS ANGELES – Many college students have had a relatively leisurely summer the past couple of months. Soon, however, they will begin another school year filled with stress.

According to a recent study, the percentage of college students experiencing anxiety over their academic performance has grown significantly over the last two decades.

The Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles found that more than 30 percent of college freshmen feel “frequently overwhelmed by all I have to do,” compared with 16 percent in 1985.

Threatening lessons. When students see their education as a challenge, stress can bring them an increased capacity to learn. But when it becomes a threat, stress creates feelings of helplessness and a foreboding sense of loss.

Stress is subjective. What is too much for one is just right for another.

Recurrent physical and psychological stress can diminish self-esteem, decrease interpersonal and academic effectiveness, create a cycle of self-blame and self-doubt and may cause physical illness.

Reading lesson. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard, explains how these stressful situations affect our drive towards happiness, achievement and survival. And how these stressful mental states can even influence our physical health.

Dianetics describes how the reactive or subconscious part of the mind can overwhelm the analytical mind – and why this causes stress. This mechanism in the mind managed to bury itself from view so thoroughly that only many years of exact research and careful testing uncovered it.

“This is the mind that makes a man suppress his hopes, which holds his apathy, which gives him irresolution when he should act, and kills him before he has begun to live,” Hubbard wrote.

It is also the part of the mind that causes illnesses that have been described as psychosomatic – headaches, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and a host of other stress-induced “syndromes” and ailments.

Student’s view. Brent Wisner was studying at UCLA when he felt his stress levels spiraling out of control.

“I remember sitting in a lecture, shivering,” he said. “I was nervous about a test that was going to happen in three weeks! It was like I was possessed.

“One philosophy class became so upsetting, I actually starting thinking college was a waste of my time. Everything bothered me: my mom, my friends and even my girlfriend. There was this haze over everything – I couldn’t think straight.”

Wisner said that after he read Hubbard’s book he understood what was causing his stress and how to fix it.

Without the stress, Wisner said classes became more enjoyable and he stopped fighting with his girlfriend.

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