Learning stress management skills is key to sound health

Finances, relationships, sports, family, friends, schoolwork and more could give anyone an ulcer. In what’s often referred to as “the best years of their lives,” college students have a lot of things that make it difficult to balance everything that’s going on in their lives sometimes.

Many call finding the balance, “time management,” Paul Miniter, professor of health and exercise science, tends to disagree. “It’s not about managing time,” he said. “No one can manage time. You can’t change time. It’s about managing yourself.”

At times, however, this can feel impossible. Miniter, a young, worldly professor, has a different take on that. He teaches a course on stress management and seems to think that stress can be a beneficial part of college life and life after college. Miniter’s class is focused on learning about oneself and channeling one’s stress into positive avenues, he said.

“This class is different than Biology or English. This is about life,” Miniter said. Although he has taught other classes at the College, he especially enjoys teaching this one.

“It’s not a job,” he said. “You get to watch people grow throughout the year.”

At the beginning of the semester, Miniter asks that the students keep a “Stress Diary.” This tool proves to be extremely beneficial and is handed in for credit around the middle of the semester. The growth in his pupils is evident even by then, he said.

Miniter is in touch with how many new stresses students face as adolescents,well aware that it has become increasingly difficult to get into college, to stay in college and to get a job after college.

Because a Bachelor’s degree is sometimes not enough to obtain a well-paying job, and in some cases neither is a Master’s degree, he realizes everything has become more competitive, and therefore more stressful.

Unfortunately, every aspect of life is not going to be stress-free. So, what can one do individually to help alleviate one’s stress levels right before those deadlines or when finals roll around? Miniter said that some quick tips for beating such stresses are keeping a stress diary, getting involved in physical activity – not even necessarily something aerobic, just something you truly enjoy, something that fulfills you – monitoring sleeping habits, trying to maintain a somewhat balanced diet and surrounding yourself with a solid support system of good friends.

Miniter said stress management is a wonderful tool to learn early on, and it could really help with the transition from high school to college.

The office of Health Services, located in Eickhoff Hall 107, has many brochures featuring more helpful tips about how to best handle stress and warning signs of rising stress levels for students to watch out for for those interested in more information.