Stress Influence on College Students’ Health and Well-Being

Stress is commonly perceived as a phenomenon immanent to human existence, a negative expression of emotional discomfort, and a cause of various types of suffering. However, scholars argue that the experience of short-term stress is necessary for living organisms. Moreover, it is beneficial since stress launches mechanisms responsible for committing fast actions and taking decisions in situations that somewhat endanger an individual. Yet, the prolonged experience of stress leads to the emergence of physical and mental illnesses in a person (Breedlove, 2015). The impact of stress on the performance and well-being of people related to different areas of human activity is of great importance. For students, stressful experiences increase with impeding exams and assessments; yet, students could reduce stress via sport, diet, and helathy sleep, as well as emotional suffort from friends and relatives.

The circumstances of human life determined by its natural flow and societal factors can create an environment for stress for each person regardless of their status and occupation. Various events cause stress to college students, as to any other average human being. In general, such occasions resulting in anxiety and tension are similar to all people. As such, the social readjustment rating scale in Breedlove (2015) exemplifies the incidents that may be endured with difficulty. For instance, “the death of a close family member,” “personal injury or illness,” and “death of a close friend” are among the stressors common to the majority of people (Breedlove, 2015, p. 579). Undergraduates are undoubtedly vulnerable to such events; hence they experience stress in general. Accordingly, societal occurrences and natural occasions are responsible for universal stress that is common to students as well.

Nonetheless, certain stress-triggering situations are present in the academic sphere only and especially relevant for students. Similar to the general stressors, Breedlove (2015) refers to a rate of college undergraduate stress scale. The top of disturbing events yet encompasses the usual human problems: death of relatives and friends, rape, concerns about marriage and pregnancy, and anxiety because of deadly diseases. The activities related to student life are passing exams, acknowledged results of a study week, and visiting classes (Breedlove, 2015). Specifically, the stress before exams is well described by the author. Namely, Breedlove (2015, p. 582) cites that “exam periods usually cause a decline in the number of immune cells and in levels of cytokines,” which is an indication of stress. The uncertainty about assessments’ results or the unknown contents of an examination might provoke such anxiety. Therefore, colleges and universities are responsible for increasing students’ stress levels participating in evaluation practices and exams.

The stress experienced because of various activities associated with studying has outcomes for students’ mental and physical health. First of all, according to Pascoe et al. (2019), people engaged in educational programs often self-report depression, which correlates with a lack of attention, remembering abilities, and general academic low achievement. In turn, the problems arising from the impossibility of grasping the program amount to even more stress. Then, the prolonged stressful condition causes illnesses of the immune and cardiovascular systems (Breedlove, 2015). Consequently, the fractured physical health and mental stability influence the well-being of an individual. Additionally, students resort to smoking and substance abuse to cope with stress (Pascoe et al., 2019). Further, the addiction yields collateral damage to the health of a studying person, fixing the ever-declining state of their organism (Breedlove, 2015). Thus, the perman Furthermore, the issue of stress among students is complicated by the fact that various populations’ groups react to stressors differently since their conditions and experiences are diverse. For example, in research from Gao et al. (2020), scholars examined the struggles of Chinese college students. The study revealed that both female and male students experienced stress during the first two years of their study. Significantly, the results did not demonstrate critical differences in the stress levels of both genders. Moreover, it was discovered that a primary characteristic independent of gender correlates with an extensive painful experience in education. Namely, introverted students felt the most uncomfortable in the conditions of their institutions. Hence, both women and men in Chinese colleges cope with stress worse if they are introverted.

Yet, several varieties were discerned in the experience of mental illnesses that accompany stress (Gao et al., 2020). Precisely, female students showed higher levels of anxiety than male ones. In fact, several factors contribute to such a distinction. First of all, women in the study tend to be insecure about their bodies. Second, female college students with alcohol addiction were more fragile and affected by anxiety. Finally, inferior academic accomplishments were perceived sensitively by women and led to higher stress resulting in anxiety. In turn, men were subjected to depression in later years of study more frequently among the two genders (Gao et al., 2020). The results reveal that specific psychological problems of female students caused their dissatisfaction, which the differences in treatment may have induced. In brief, gender-specific research of stress in the academic sphere clarifies the connection between a specific population’s characteristics and ensuing stress.

Fortunately, there are methods of coping with stress that the majority of students could use. According to Breedlove (2015), the most straightforward and effective way to reduce the impact of stress or at least sloosh the emotional baggage leading to anxious experiences is taking up sports. The advantage of such activity lies in the variability of exercises available for students. As such, one can participate in a fitness club or yoga class, as well as athletics or football. Yet, sport for relaxation and emotional rehabilitation should not lead to even more stressful conditions; the peak load ought not to exceed a moderate level. The other benefit of this approach is the sanitary effect that it has on an organism. Additionaly, Breedlove (2015) mentions that sound sleep and a balanced diet may be advantageous not only for physical health but mental too. Therefore, sport, a correct diet, and a regular amount of sleep can remove the harmful effects of prolonged stress.

However, sports could be inaccessible for disabled students, while regulation of diet and sleep is burdensome for people of low economic status and working individuals. In this case, as Breedlove (2015, p. 589) formulates, “friends and family provide us with a buffer from the cruel, cruel world.” The stress-buffering hypothesis he refers to implies that emotional support positively prevents people from mental illnesses caused by stress. Then, another way of encountering stress may be building a strong social bond with close people.

To conclude, students are highly affected by stress experiences since colleges and universities offer a constant evaluation that individuals cannot predict. The outcomes of stress are physical problems and mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. The variety of groups inflicted to stress reveal different patterns of pressure tolerance. Finally, one may escape the negative consequences of stressful life by engaging in sports, eating and sleeping healthily, and communicating with supporting people. ent stress in the academic community leads to severe problems with health and well-being.


Breedlove, M. (2015). Principles of Psychology (1st ed.). Sinauer Associates.

Gao, W., Ping, S., & Liu, X. (2020). Gender differences in depression, anxiety, and stress among college students: A longitudinal study from China. Journal of Affective Disorders, 263, 292–300. Web.

Pascoe, M. C., Hetrick, S. E., & Parker, A. G. (2019). The impact of stress on students in secondary school and higher education. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 104–112. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Stress Influence on College Students' Health and Well-Being." September 2, 2022.