Monday, February 13, 2012

Students and Stress

As college students, we tend to feel pretty stressed on a regular basis.  With getting that paper done on time, going to work, internships, relationships (or lack of any of these things), our lives are hectic and stressed.  Add to this situation the fact that we are going to school in New York City, a place where people are always on the move, rushing around and stressed.  Sapolsky even states that exposure to New York City is a risk factor for a fatal heart attack due to the high levels of “stress, excitement, fear, and disruption of sleep/wake cycles than in most other places” (49).  Reading this book is even making me stressed, thinking about all the ways that I am slowly shortening my life.  At the same time, I learning ways to improve it, so it evens out.  What I found particularly interesting was the section on stress and eating.  I was comforted by the fact that I am with the majority and tend to eat more while stressed.  I now realize this is due to the levels of glucocorticoids which cause the cravings for the delicious starchy, sugary foods.   However as Sapolsky concludes, our responses to stress vary by individual.  This is true for the effects it may have on appetite, but also other factors such as risk for heart attack and strokes.  Even though stress varies from each individual, we can agree that it is not good, and can have long term consequences.  As a result, I think it is important to try to eliminate certain situations that may cause us stress.  While we cannot simply get away with doing that final research paper claiming it is bad for us and will cause us to have a heart attack one day, we can take steps to dealing with the stress.  Sapolsky discusses these methods, such as exercise and meditation, in his final chapter.  Overall, I find this book very interesting and look forward to sharing this information with family and friends. 


  1. I also agree with you that being college students in NYC is very stressful. We are always preoccupied with something either physically or mentally. And most of the time, we put ourselves in that situation because we don't want to waste time. I feel that as students, we tend to overlook the bad habits we have since we are still young and we can’t see what’s happening inside our bodies. Living in NYC also makes it so easy to please our taste buds with the 24/7 deli stores and the different food trucks that are right outside our doors. However, as I read this book, it really opened my eyes how important it is to take care of our bodies NOW. It's imperative that we do now since later on, it will just be harder as our lives get busier. And we never know if later on will be too late. Overall, the reading really encouraged me to build healthy habits and be consistent with them in order to even see results. I'm hoping to improve on my sleeping schedule.

  2. I think it would be hard to disagree with you on you this point; it’d be hard to argue that the stressors we live with everyday are good for our bodies, but maybe there is some literature out there that argues otherwise. Regardless, I agree with you about inevitable stressors in our lives. It’s hard to avoid the due date, but maybe it is possible to avoid the stress that comes along with it (and particularly from procrastinating). It makes me think that perhaps college students would benefit from some sort of stress management workshop where they can be advised against all-nighters, reminded of the importance of staying on top of due dates, and encouraged to keep a good balance in their lives.

  3. I also really enjoyed reading this book, as it can connect to anyone who reads it - we all (presumably) have stress in our lives that we could afford to alleviate. Other than the fact that after reading this book I'm 100% convinced I will die before I'm 50 due to all the stresses of our modern lives, a big takeaway from learning about the causes of stress is, of course, seeing the signs of it. This way, I can try to offset many unnecessary stresses.

    One line in particular resonated with me when I was reading - "People are as likely to race against themselves,.., as some external yardstick." (363) This section in particular I found illuminating because, at least to my knowledge, much of the stresses we put on ourselves are a matter of perspective - which means they can be more easily avoided! The mailroom boy getting a $50,000 salary as opposed to the executive getting a $50,001 salary was interesting, because the boy was beyond satisfied, but the executive was beside himself, even though technically he is more well off. That made me more aware of the academic/etc/etc. stresses I put on myself, which I am sure many other college students can relate to.

    I think stress should be given more time in the spotlight of people's thoughts, because as a society I feel that we attribute coping with undue stress with being driven - and those are exactly the type of people who could benefit from some stress reduction before the stress passes over the hump of the upside down "U" graph, from beneficial to harmful.

  4. I completely agree with this post because we deal with stress everyday and there is literally no way to avoid it. Even if we think at the start of the day oh, I won't be stressed about anything I'm in a good mood, something might happen in class or at work that changes that entire situation around and your day can become stressful as hell. We are constantly putting wear and tear on our bodies even from doing everyday activities like walking 10 or more blocks to class everyday, going to the gym, even trying to finish a book or paper in time can cause a huge level of stress. But since we're in college these things will never stop. Actually, they will probably only get worse as some of us go to grad school, med school and other post-college programs. It honestly is hard, and somewhat taxing to keep a balanced life and keep on top of every single thing that we are expected to do at this time in our lives. Sometimes I find myself thinking, "how am i supposed to do all of this? how can i get through this." It takes a lot of effort through the stressors of each day but I guess that's why we have to go through them day by day, one at a time.