Free Essay: Do College Students Use Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms in Response to Stress?

Published: 2023-03-21
Free Essay: Do College Students Use Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms in Response to Stress?
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  College Stress Mental health Substance abuse
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1174 words
10 min read

Life in college is always stressful and challenging to many students. Caused by different factors, stress affects all students across college. Mostly during the busiest schedules, students become excessively stressed as responsibilities begin to pile up. The finals or midterm periods are usually too stressful and students have to deal with the pressure and the stressful experiences using different stress coping mechanisms. It is not only during these weeks when students have high stress levels though most of them find themselves under a lot of pressure from the demanding schedules.

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I went across campus asking students about their stressful factors and the methods they use to cope with the stress. I discovered that anxiety and stress define the normal lives of many college students. Many students experience physical stress mainly when they have too much work on and end up lacking enough sleep or are unable to eat well trying to finish assignments, read for finals, maintain healthy social lives and generally try to survive in a highly demanding college environment. The life of any student is subjected to different types of stressors like pressure from their academic studies, high expectation to succeed, uncertain futures and challenges of shifting and adapting to the different college system. This makes students to face emotional, physical and social or even family related issues which can impact their learning and overall performance in their academics. Some students have a very challenging time of coping with the stress and end up being left behind while other students perceive the pressure as a challenge where they opt to work harder to overcome their stressful conditions. Stress can affect an individual's mental or physical health. This explains why the adoption of more healthier and less stressful lifestyles has been a topic of interest in many colleges around the world (Magrys 215).

Stress among graduate and undergraduate students is always a complex problem, arising from both non-academic and academic factors. These factors include psychological, environmental and socio-cultural factors. In my research I discovered that Psychosocial stress cases are high among international students, women and women because of the changes they are required to make in their cultural, academic and social lives in their new college environments, having left their home environments where they had people like their high school friends, parents and siblings who they could talk and relate with. Many students in college environments are faced with depression, anxiety, disorientation and even loneliness. Studies indicate that differences in types of personalities and poor stress coping strategies contribute to increased stress in particular people, leading to negative behavior patterns, decline in the student's academic performance and the development of psychoneurotic symptoms (Valerio 19).

Individual factors which can influence a person's stress response include sex, age, ethnicity, genetic predisposition, adiposity, physical-ability and lifestyle (alcohol drinking and smoking habits). Differences in the maturity of students can also influence their likelihood to abuse drugs. Students who grow up environments that make them aware of the realities about the deadly side effects of drug abuse are likely not to be influenced into smoking or drinking b their college buddies. Stress affects most people in a similar manner. Acute stress leads can lead to quick changes in our entire body (Valerio 22).

According to studies, there is a huge connection between chronic and acute stress and the desire by students to abuse drugs (Magrys 217).From my interviews, I discovered that stress plays a very significant role in the addiction process of different individuals. I interviewed 33 students and 25 of them admitted to have used alcohol at least twice every week. Some students informed me they started to smoke and drink on a daily basis as a way of relieving them from their stressful days. Notably, stress encourages drug use and keeps people hooked making them less motivated to change their drug habits. In my interviews, most students in from our college said they used alcohol and smoked cigarettes to cope with stress. I found that students doing technical courses were more likely to use drugs because of the demanding nature of their courses. Most students however turn to alcohol after stressful events and some of them informed me they had missed an exam because of drinking too much on the previous night. Senior students were also more likely to use alcohol to deal with their stress because of the demanding nature of courses in their levels.

While alcohol possibly provided the students with a short term relief from stress, most of the students knew that it could lead to long-term mental and physical damage among side effects like sleep deprivation which are likely to increase an individual's stress levels. Excessive alcohol use in college becomes a habit and possibly grows into an unhealthy trait that individuals transfer even in their adult lives. There is a clear connection between stress and smoking/alcohol use among college students. This suggests that it is essential for lecturers to address the stressors that may lead to drinking/smoking habits among students. Considering their stress levels, most college students find themselves in a situation where they are not equipped to understand their stress and know the best mechanisms to cope with the issue. This is why most of them are likely to opt to use drugs. Drugs give them an easy way of escaping the realities of their stressful college lives.

It is true that college life presents most learners a unique life experience where for the first time they are able to make independent decisions. This however does not mean that the teenagers should face their highly demanding college lives on their own. College life is challenging in its own unique way and students should be taught healthier ways to deal with their stress. Stress and most drugs (alcohol) have one major common aspect: they work by hijacking an individual's control and power. Most students drink because they assume that alcohol might fix their stressful problems. Instead, the abuse and use of alcohol and cigarettes brings along its own complicated types of stress. In reality, at the end of the day alcohol/smoking does not in any way fix any issue. When it comes to stress and drug abuse, the real problem is always neglected and lost underneath. Stress is a product of real life issues and since students lack better ways to solve their stress they opt to try and drink away their stress. Drug use easily escalates to become a life problem in its own with a lot of complications. To solve this rising crisis, college students should be given access to resources which can help them to actively deal with their stress, their personal problems and overall mental health problems which can negatively impact their day to day lives.

Works Cited

Magrys, S. A., and M. C. Olmstead. "Acute stress increases voluntary consumption of alcohol in undergraduates." Alcohol and alcoholism 50.2 (2015): 213-218.

Valerio, Teresa D., Myoung Jin Kim, and Kathy Sexton-Radek. "Association of stress, general health, and alcohol use with poor sleep quality among US college students." American Journal of Health Education 47.1 (2016): 17-23.

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