by Dayna Kalakau, staff writer
|Stress is a physical and psychological reaction
to problems and events in one’s environment, said Dr. Gregory
Hall, chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Bentley
College, in an article he wrote for CampusBlues.com.
A change in environment and periods of significant transition
are common stress triggers for anyone, but especially for newly
matriculating college students. Managing homework, school activities,
and sometimes even a full-time job, all at once, can increase
those stress levels.
When I first started college,” said Danielle Jones, a junior
visual communications major from Los Angeles, “I was very
depressed for about two weeks,…but I learned to love the
island, and I love where I am.”
According to Hall, “All of us experience stress on a regular
basis. Most of this stress is actually positive, serving to motivate
us.” However, excessive stress is not healthy.
Hall explains that higher levels of stress can develop over time.
Students are often unaware that unhealthy stress is building
up until it is too late, and they are suffering either physically
or emotionally. Without an outlet for its release, stress can
cause physical or psychological breakdown. According to the National
Mental Health Association, college students who report being
stressed are more likely to experience feelings of depression
Subtle warning signs of unhealthy stress include: changes in
sleeping and eating patterns; increased frustration and a quickness
to anger; chronic colds, muscle aches, and headaches; and difficulties
When I first started college, I tried so hard to do and manage
everything,” said junior Jackie Rodriguez, a communication
major and California native. Rodriguez carries a full schedule
of six courses each semester. “I just couldn’t do
it, and my body paid for it. I’ve been so stressed that
I become really depressed and unhappy,” she admitted.
NMHA research indicates that feelings like those Rodriguez describes
often lead to eating disorders, increased levels of anger, the
use of alcohol and drugs, and in some cases, suicide. In 1998
suicide was the second leading killer among college students
and third on the list for all those ages 15-24.
Fortunately, however, if students take a proactive approach to
stress management, one that takes care of both mind and body,
stress is less likely to do harm. Research indicates that unhealthy
stress levels cause physical illnesses and chemical changes in
the body, but that’s only half the equation. The same research,
Hall said, indicates that maintaining a healthy balance between
the physical and the psychological self—through healthy
diet and exercise habits, setting healthy goals, having alone
time, and thinking positively—can help students maintain
healthy levels of stress and allow them to get the most out of
the college experience.
When I feel stressed, I go to the gym, or I swim in the ocean,” said
Jones. “It helps me take my mind off things.”
HPU offers a number of programs and resources to help students
deal with stress. Many of the school’s academic advisors
have counseling certificates. Not only are they available if
students just want to vent their frustrations, but they can help
students who become homesick or who lack essential time management
Sometimes the students get off track,” said advisor Deneen
Kawamoto. “Sometimes just talking to us helps.”
Students can come in on an as-needed basis, or they may schedule
weekly meeting times with advisors. If advisors feel they cannot
help a student, they refer the student to a medical professional.
Students might also seek counsel from Rev. Dale Burke, HPU communication
instructor and chaplain, whose office is room 1506 in the UB
Building, at 1164 Bishop, 544-5394.
The Secrets of Success seminar program is another counseling
service offered by the Academic Advising Center. The themed seminars
cover topics ranging from note-taking skills and time management
tips to overcoming homesickness and advice for students with
part-time jobs. The seminars are free and open to all HPU students.
Of particular concern to HPU administrators are the school’s
They need a lot of support,” said Kawamoto of first-year
students. The new First Year Programs office offers a variety
of activities to freshmen, including seminars, workshops, and
field trips to various parts of the island, all which are designed
to help them to better cope with the transition from high school
Kawamoto added that HPU is in the process of hiring a psychologist
who will become the first director of Personal Counseling and
will be dedicated solely to helping students with their personal