Stress affects the body but it ‘can be a wake up call’

Heather Bickle, an outreach worker at the Campus Health Centre says stress is an indicator that we are doing something wrong
Heather Bickle, an outreach worker at the Campus Health Centre says stress is an indicator that we are doing something wrong

Stress affects everyone differently, but it has one thing in common-it can affect your health.

Unmanaged stress can lead to a life of mental and physical illness, according to Heather Bickle, an outreach worker at the Campus Health Centre.

“There is a lot of effects within our heart, a lot of cardio vascular issues long-term,” Bickle said. “Stress is like a force. Our heart can’t handle that force.”

She adds stress can have mental, behavioural, emotional and physical effects as well

She says stress can lead to a heart attack and cause our skin to react differently to situations, which will cause acne to break out.

It can also lead to diabetes and prevent your body from producing and absorbing insulin.

There is many ranges of stress, but it depends on how healthy, mentally, physically and social someone is to feel the effects.

“Everyone is different, so it all depends on your overall lifestyle,” Bickle said. “If you are out of balance you are going to notice it faster than others.”

This includes other effects, such as headaches, insomnia and fatigue.

Some students will start to feel the effects, such as nausea, when they are stressed in college.

“So they may be really stressed out about an assignment or a mid-term,” Bickle said. “Some students might start to vomit and might be physically ill. Some students completely shut off and other students get kind of worked up.”

Nicky Patel, manager of SALS at Durham College, says coming to college is a very stressful experience for students because of the transition from high school.

“For some students, it’s there first time away from home,” Patel said, adding students are sometimes allowed to redo assignments in high school, but not in college.

“You are given a deadline, just like in the workplace,” Patel said. “You are here to get a diploma to get a job. That is what we prepare you for.”

There are a number of ways to reduce stress, such as eating properly and knowing what services are available at the college, she said.

The college offers services to help maintain stress, such as SALS to help with academic success.

She said managing stress from the beginning of college will help students be successful in college.

“As soon as you start college is the time to get organized,” Patel said. “Really listen to your professors for the first two weeks (to plan for assignments).”

She adds that not managing stress can boost you anxiety levels.

“You may forget to eat or you don’t get enough sleep,” she said. “We don’t want students to suffer.”

She says if people understand what is stressing them out they will be able to make changes in their lives.

“Some students don’t recognize any kind of mentally, emotional behavioural changes, but they are coming in because they think there is something physically wrong with them,” Bickle said.

But not all stress is connected to academics.

She said it is sometimes students aren’t making friends on campus or they are homesick.

Ultimately, stress is an indicator that we are off balance.

“You just gave me a wake up, you set my alarm,” Bickle said. “Now I can look at where I am not doing so well.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, taking action is the first step to managing stress.

There are some common tips to use, such as identifying the problem, solving problems as they come up, and talking about your problems.

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing though, according to Bickle.

“We don’t need to fear it (stress), we need to become aware of it in our own lives and feel that we are in control of it,” she said.