By Diamond Mitchem and Karen Gavis
Students and teachers agree that sports help relieve stress and strengthen students’ chances for success in the classroom.
“Classes can be quite tiresome,” said NE student Nelson Pacheco. “If I have an assignment due tomorrow and a test as well, it only means that I’m not getting any sleep.”
When it comes to stress, there is “no ‘check engine’ light on our foreheads,” said SE counselor Joyce Fisher.
Unchecked levels of stress can lead to burnout, anxiety and even depression, Fisher said.
“Stress is your body’s physical response to something your mind perceives as a challenge, demand or threat,” she said.
Prolonged levels of stress can be extremely damaging, Fisher said, and she described these extended periods as “draining, unhealthy and even deadly.”
“You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside,” Fisher quoted Wayne Dyer, psychologist and motivational speaker.
The key to combating stress is to consciously engage in relaxation, Fisher said.
“Seek a balanced lifestyle,” she said.
Exercise is one of the key ingredients of a balanced life.
“Tests are stressful,” said student Matthew Jackson. “Playing sports relieves that stress and gets your mind off of school.”
SE Campus health and physical education instructor Shahzad Nazir said exercising does reduce stress. He said if students were told they would be given a million dollars at the end of the semester and all they had to do was exercise five times a week and not eat fast food, there would probably be more millionaires.
“It’s all about how we balance our priorities,” he said. “If exercise and health is a top priority in your life, you will find the time to exercise.”
Time management is a big reason for stress as well as attitudes and the way people react to certain situations, Nazir said.
“You don’t want to go to the bottle,” he said. “There are better ways to deal with stress than going to happy hour and blowing your paycheck.”
Students sometimes bring stress upon themselves, Nazir said, and that can be reduced by communicating well with instructors. It is common for students to feel overwhelmed. Not just with courses but with work schedules and family responsibilities as well.
“Emotional stress takes an even bigger toll on your immune system than physical stress,” he said.
Volleyball Club president Neal Dao said exercise can ease the mind, so students can do better in class.
“It’s not going to make them smarter, but they are calmer,” Dao said. “They make a better grade by relaxing, so exercise is very important.”
Pacheco, who has run regularly for more than five years, said he has only recently recognized the benefits.
“I haven’t realized how much it helps until I started taking 12-plus hours of classes,” he said. When he runs, he can “stay awake later and be more productive throughout the day.”
TCC fitness centers are open to all current TCC students and employees. Gymnasium hours differ according to location, so students should check their campus’ fitness department for more information.
“Our department, we are all about getting people physical exercise,” Nazir said. “That’s our number one recommendation when it comes to stress relief.”