College Stress Relief: What Do We Really Learn About Relieving Stress In College?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t learn much about coping with stress when I was in college. Granted, that was back in the late 1960s. But the lack of knowledge about how to deal with stress is still very evident on most college campuses today.

Even worse, when I was in college (Duke University), not only did I learn next to nothing about how to relieve my stress, but I picked up many new unhealthy habits, attitudes, and philosophies that guaranteed me to have lots of unnecessary stress in my life.

Missed Opportunity

Today’s college students might be under even more stress than in past decades, but are they being any better prepared for coping with it?

I don’t think so. And this is a huge missed opportunity.

Think about this: why do we really send our kids to college? Is it so they can learn calculus, economics, chemistry, biology, or the physics of throwing a Frisbee?

No. We send our kids to college, and pay the staggering tuitions, because we hope those four years of education and socialization will prepare them well for life.

We want our kids to be happy, successful, and yes we want them to be highly educated. We want them to be successful at whatever career choices they make. We want them to be happy and successful in their relationships with others. We want them to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and most of all we want them to be happy with themselves.

We want them to be confident, optimistic, and have good self-esteem. We want them to feel good about themselves, even when things don’t go perfectly in their lives. And we want them to know how to deal with adversity, which they will inevitably experience, without going off the deep end or otherwise damaging themselves or others around them.

We Want Our Kids To Be Stress Free

When you really get down to it, we want our kids to be as successful and happy as they can be, and we want them to have as few nasty problems in life as is humanly possible. To my way of thinking, this means we want them to have very little “stress.”

Yet how much of the money we spend on their college education goes to quality training on how to cope with stress? Even if by some major fluke they end up taking an official course in college on how to cope with stress, how well are they really being educated? Aren’t they just going to get indoctrinated into the same “stress management mentality” that is already a major part of the problem?

And are our kids likely to get a good “education” in how to cope with stress from hanging out with their friends or other campus peer groups? It’s very unlikely. What’s more likely is that, like me, they will just pick up or reinforce bad habits of thinking and coping, that will haunt them like a bad plague for the rest of their life.

We Need A New Approach

Let’s face it. Our kids are not going to learn very much about stress (at least what’s really true about it) from those who are in charge of their college education. If it’s going to happen, as I think it should, it’s going to have to come from others who have a strong track record of successfully helping people to cope with stress.

With the problem of college stress growing every day, we need to seek new ways to better prepare college students for dealing with the many pressures and problems they are likely to encounter. This is not only important for the years they spend in college, but it is even more critical for preparing them to lead low-stress lives once they graduate.

Copyright (c) 2012 M.C.Orman, M.D., FLP