Sources and Outlets of Stress among University Students: Correlations between Stress and Unhealthy Habits

Jacqueline Britz, Eric Pappas*, James Madison University

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Abstract This research into stress assessed the sources and outlets of stress among a group of 124 college freshmen at James Madison University. Results revealed that a high degree and frequency of stress exists among the participants, with over 50 percent of students reporting high levels of stress. The major causes of stress were found to be academic workload and time management. High stress levels among participants correlated with many unhealthy behaviors, including compromised quality of diet and decreased quantity of sleep. 

Introduction Stress permeates almost every aspect of society and has now become a normal experience for most Americans. Although stress was called the “The epidemic of the 80’s” by Time magazine, stress levels in America since then have continued to rise (America’s No.1 Health Problem, 2009). A 2007 national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that one-third of all Americans live with extreme levels of stress and that about half of Americans (48 percent) believed that their stress levels had increased in the five years prior to the study (Stress, 2007). Physical and psychological symptoms of stress were also found to be increasing in participants. According to Russ Newman, APA executive director for professional practice, in reference to the 2007 national survey: “We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact; however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease” (Stress, 2007).

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