Normalizing stress spells disaster for post-graduate life

Alex McLean

The college approach to mounting anxiety and stress is to “grin and bear it.” Is this a symptom of exhaustion or simply giving up? The semester transition and increasing social pressures to “tough it out” are major contributors to this.
The common response amongst most students here at Augustana to the question, “How’s the semester going?” almost always tends to be a weak smile and a bogus “Oh, you know.”
This year at Augustana we switched to semester schedules, as we all know. With this comes the transition from the 10-week sprint to the 15-week marathon.
I guarantee the majority of anxiety and stress normalization is due to the exhaustion of this sudden transition for sophomores through seniors. We have become used to the realization that we would be finishing fall term at this time last year. 
This normalized stress isn’t new. Obviously, as long as there has been competition in the workforce and stress for good grades for post-grad plans, there’s an absurd weight on the shoulders of college students. And not only is it detrimental to the students right now, but it will also have long-lasting effects post-undergraduate study.
If the normalization of stress continues into post-graduate plans, be it the workforce or graduate school, and remains an unchecked standard for students, it leaves a very blatant weakness that can cripple any adult.
Normalizing stress can just be equated with “rolling over” and thus is never fully dealt with. If one gets to, say, medical school and has yet to find a healthy outlet for stress or ways to manage, how can they do so after four years of rationalizing that, “This is how everyone does it and its par for the course, so, ‘Oh well.’”
Even worse, if one gets to the workforce and is still incapable of stress management, how can they live a content life?
The recommendation I pose is that every college student finds a healthy outlet. Additionally, visit the Augustana counseling services and talk about it with your close friends. It helps to verbalize and to see what exactly is causing the stress.
If your stress is something that can be managed today, find a way to deal with it. If it’s not something that can be healthily managed today, just let yourself breathe and know everything will be okay. You won’t be able to focus in class if you’re incredibly sleep-deprived and certainly will not do better in exams.
Realizing these four years are fleeting is another huge component. Yes, you’re stressed, but you’ll only be in this situation for the next 1-3 years, and after that you have the rest of your 20s and beyond. Melting down now is not conducive to a long, happy life. If you figure out a stress management option beyond burning your candle at both ends, everything else you do will ultimately be easier to handle.
So, student body, let us stop normalizing stress. Start talking about it and start being aware of others who are also under great amounts of stress and raise a lending hand. We’re all fighting a battle and some do it silently.