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Why Stress at University Is Detrimental to Your Success

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Stress is a natural response of your body to various external triggers. All people experience it at some point in their life. While small amounts of stress are perfectly normal, experiencing it for a prolonged period of time is harmful to our physical and mental health. 

Today, university students report suffering from stress more than ever before. When it grows to extreme levels, stress impedes their performance and deteriorates the overall quality of life. This article will explain why stress has destructive consequences and how it prevents you from reaching success. 

Why do students feel stressed out?

Social and academic pressures are two of the major stressors. The university experience is associated with significant changes in a person’s life, including heavy workload, new social roles, and important decisions. Students feel pressure to meet the expectations, combine study with other responsibilities like work and family, and adjust to a new environment. They also experience fears about the future, especially considering that they’re graduating in the uncertain professional world as a result of the pandemic.

If you experience severe symptoms of stress, don’t hesitate and reach out for help. There are people who are ready to support you and offer you academic help whenever you need it. The chance to write my essays online will help you deal with stress at university. It allows students to minimize the negative feelings associated with writing, deadlines, and pressure to study.

What is stress?

Stress is a chemical reaction that serves to respond to potentially harmful situations. It’s a fight-or-flight response that prepares your body to act by increasing your heart rate, tightening muscles, and rising blood pressure.

However, your body uses stress not only to react to situations that can cause injury but to a wide range of experiences like taking an exam or attending a meeting. These are situations that people have to face daily. If they have difficulty handling them, it results in stress overload and subsequent physical and mental consequences. 

Stress influences your life in several aspects: emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive. Emotionally, stress makes you moody, overwhelmed, and irritable. You may develop low self-esteem and feel lonely. Physically, stress can influence every organ of your body and manifest itself in a wide range of symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, tense muscles, and shaking, to name but a few. Behavioural symptoms result in avoidance, procrastination, and nervous behaviors like fidgeting or pacing. Cognitive symptoms include fears, worry, poor focus, and memory problems. 

How does stress affect academic performance and success of university students?

Sometimes stress can be motivational, but when it’s excessive, students suffer from decreased cognitive performance, low energy, and emotional issues. This makes stress the number one cause of poor academic performance, which prevents students from pursuing their goals and affects their achievement. Stress results in:

  • Poor attendance. Stress feels paralyzing. Research shows that 60% of students report that they’re so stressed that they can’t do anything. 53% of students feel that they can’t even spend time with friends because of it, let alone study and get their work done. As a result, stress leads to attendance issues. Students start to miss lectures and experience trouble completing assignments in time. 
  • Attention and concentration problems. Chronic stress slows down cognitive processes like attention, focus, and concentration. This impacts your ability to stay focused and resist distractions. At the same time, the majority of university assignments like readings and research papers require profound concentration and attention to detail. If you’re stressed out, you simply can’t think clearly and meet the expectations of a rigorous curriculum.
  • Memory issues. Under the influence of prolonged stress, you may also face memory problems and issues with the speed of information processing. You become forgetful and experience difficulty learning and retaining new information. 
  • Emotional exhaustion. Emotions that students associate with the university are linked to their motivation to learn. A recent study examined the connection between stress and quality of life among university students and found a correlation between stress and emotional exhaustion. 45.8% of students reported experiencing the symptoms of emotional exhaustion weekly. Thus, if learners feel stressed out, their academic outcomes and success decline. 
  • Lack of motivation. Stress leads to decreased motivation, which causes productivity issues and results in poor academic outcomes in the long term. Students lack emotional and cognitive resources to do their best during the term. As a result, they start to ignore assignments and neglect exam preparation. Lack of motivation also prevents students from being meaningfully engaged with the content of their classes. 
  • Decrease in creative thinking. Success at university and beyond is impossible without creativity and innovation. Yet, when students feel stressed, they fail to exercise their creative thinking to a full extent. As a result, they can’t come up with innovative ideas and solve problems. 

Takeaway

Stress is a major source of physical and mental tension that prevents you from succeeding at university and beyond. When it persists for a long time without being addressed, stress leads to exhaustion, a decline in cognitive performance, and mental illnesses. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel and make enough time for self-care. It will help you identify the causes of stress in your life and address them timely and effectively.


David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.

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