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How Stress Affects Adult Students' Concentration

Many adult students returning to higher education are typically under a greater amount of stress than the 18-year-old fresh-out-of-high school college student. Career and family responsibilities, financial worries, and paying for your own children's college education may be just some of the many stressors you have in your life as you contemplate returning to school to pursue a college degree. Whether you're going for an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or a certification in a particular field, stress is something that you have to factor into the equation of balancing your home and work life with your new life as a student.

Stress in college students can affect the ability to concentrate, and there have been studies conducted that prove that stress interferes with a student's ability to concentrate. In order to understand why it is so important to relax and not let stress affect your concentration and your studies, you must first understand the correlation between stress and concentration. Stress in college students is not something we take likely, and the faculty and staff at Colorado Christian University fully understand the importance of minimizing your stress level to optimize your educational experience.

Stress: Friend and Foe?

Ironically, stress does improve concentration for a very short period of time. This is due to the body releasing chemicals into the brain to help it focus and push adrenaline into the bloodstream in order to heighten the senses, which helps the body hone in and focus on tasks at hand. So, stress, in a minimal amount, can be a good thing for a very short time. Short-term stress really does help your concentration at first, which is very useful when you need to hammer out last-minute assignments, a report for your boss, or you need to quickly fix some computer problems that are interfering with your work. These short-term effects, however, do not last. As time passes, the more stress you are undergoing, the more you need to concentrate in order to relieve the causes of the stress. This means that your brain is fighting against itself when you need to get work done. Ironically, the feeling of having to get work done is the main cause of stress for many people, so stress becomes a self-defeating cycle.

There are hundreds of ways to deal with stress, and one of the best ways is to simply walk away from the task for a few moments to calm down and collect your thoughts. We're not saying abandon a difficult project or situation, but stepping away from it for even a few seconds may allow you to return to the task with a new perspective and renewed energy. If it's not possible to literally walk away for a few moments, there are ways you can relax right where you are: close your eyes and take deep breaths. Concentrate on each breath as it fills your lungs, then concentrate on the breath leaving as you exhale. Focus your attention on your breathing until you are paying attention to nothing else. Then, once you are done, you should feel much more relaxed and able to concentrate. If you do not feel better, repeat the exercise until your mind is clear and ready to focus again.

While stress is an inevitable part of everyday life for many, if not most, people taking classes while working outside the home or as a stay-at-home parent, it can be handled by practicing good time management techniques, breathing exercises, and breaks from the projects you are facing. The staff and faculty at CCU are willing to help any students who may have attention span problems. Our faculty advisers can speak to you if you are concerned that your concentration problems may affect your classroom performance. Stress in college students is quite common. You will be amazed at how many other students experience the same stress you are feeling as you begin your degree program as an adult student.

No need to stress. CCU's college of adult and graduate studies is the perfect place for you to get your degree.

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