The best stress in college

Emily Morris, Staff Reporter

Stress is a regular aspect of every college, but is this a good or a bad thing?

According to the National College Health Assessment of undergraduates, over 15 percent of Oakland University students claim to experience “tremendous” stress—compared to 12 percent nationally—because of college demands. However, this statistic could be less troublesome than one might assume. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, stress is defined as “emotional strain from demanding circumstances,” which could be seen to hold a negative connotation, due to media representations of stress.

The pressures of attending school can seem like a ‘stressful, surreal blur,’ according to the cult classic “Mean Girls.”  Despite any credibility the fictional Cady Heron may have, some studies suggest the exact opposite and actually attribute a positive connotation to stress. Moreover, stress is the root word of “distress” and “eustress,” which correlate to negative and positive types of stress, according to Doctors Harry Mills, Natalie Reiss and Mark Dombeck in an article published by

“Stress is not always a bad thing,” they wrote. “Stress is simply the body’s response to changes.”

Feeling stressed is a biological reaction that has the possibility to affect everyone who experiences change—approaching exams, deepening friendships, busy schedules; the list is endless.

“You might notice that sometimes being stressed out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything,” according to an article published by ULifeline.

However, controlling how stress is managed and what stress is available determines if it becomes eustress or distress.

According to Dr. Richard Lazaruss, the key to channeling stress into positive energy is “cognitive appraisal.” Cognitive appraisal is simply dissecting whether stress is negative or positive and being able to relay adjustments to correct any aversion. Of course, this process doesn’t have to be a single responsibility.  There are several self-evaluation options across Oakland University.

“From my perspective as a health educator, I’m obliged to educate people to the extent that they are able to make informed choices, regardless of whether they make ‘good’ choices,” said Erica Wallace, coordinator of Health and Wellness.

Graham Health Center welcomes students to attend counseling for any number of reasons throughout the week. Additionally, various student organizations could offer a healthy outlet from the negative stressors test anxiety can bring within classes. Students can then manage any negative stress and channel it into motivation.

“I think the right amount of stress can motivate me for my classes even more,” said Viviane Dang, a biochemistry major with a total of 21 credit hours this semester. “Sometimes I stay up later studying because I’m stressed about a test, and I end up channeling my stress into extra focus.”  

Students have the opportunity to choose the direction they want from whatever type of stress they experience, according to Good Therapy. Although stress generally holds a negative connotation, eustress and distress are both methods of feeling stress. Some stress is completely healthy and natural, depending on individual reactions.