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Extreme Stress

  1. Feb 2, 2009 #1
    I have a serious question. I'm currently a physics major taking Chemistry for Engineers, and Calculus. I'm trying to get into my university's engineering science program. I've never been able to deal with stress well, in fact you could say I'm terrible at it. If I'm stressed about my current work load, do I have no business trying to get into an engineering program?

    I have depression and bipolar disorder, and think terrible thoughts when I get overloaded. Would a 2-year degree in some sort of technical college so I could help build things that go into space, be better for me and my mind?

    Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. I'll be checking periodically so I can answer any questions you may have.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2009 #2


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    You can avoid some of the stress. What you do is take a smaller courseload; study ahead and prepare for topics and lab exercises BEFORE they occur in the course. Also, something people do not attend to enough - build your prerequisite skills and knowledge which some courses demand. This may not always be adequately expressed in the official course catalog descriptions. What I mean by "build" is also "rebuild". Just because you have course credit in a prequisite is not the same as being competent in that prerequisite.
  4. Feb 2, 2009 #3


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    First of all, bipolar disorder and derpression are medical conditions that need the attention of qualified professionals. So above all else you need to make sure that you're health is being properly attended to.

    Second, you've pointed out that you have never been able to deal with stress well. That's fine. That doesn't mean you can't start dealing with it better. The question is a matter of how to do that. The answer will largely come from identifying the sources of stress and formulating a plan to deal with each of them.

    Some examples:
    Stress: Peer group consistently reinforcing how difficult a class is, avoiding homework, and passing around well-worn, half-baked, assignment solutions destined for mediocre grades.
    Solution: Avoid these peer groups and instead look for actively engaged, positive people with common goals.

    Stress: Fear of failure.
    Solution: This is a big one, but it's largely self-reinforced. Things that can help minimize this fear are positive thinking, actively looking for opportunities, positive visualization exercises, self-confidence boosting exercises, and reinforcing on a psychological level that your self-worth is inherent, not tied to specific performances.

    Stress: Unconstructive leisure activities (too much drinking, partying, excessive gaming etc.)
    Solution: These can be self-destructive behaviors when they are done to excess, but leisure activies are often necessary to blow off steam. What can help is to make sure that you establish a plan for yourself. For example: allow one hour for game playing after your chemistry assignment is finished, rather than playing as a form of procrastination.

    Anyway, I hope this helps.
  5. Feb 2, 2009 #4
    I've found http://calnewport.com/blog/" [Broken]) post.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Feb 3, 2009 #5


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    Hey there. With a course like engineering you should make sure you have a reasonably healthy lifestyle and take regular breaks when necessary. Although engineering is a pretty full on course, if you manage your time well you should have plenty of opportunities for regular breaks.

    Sometimes exercise can be beneficial as well. It can take your mind off what you're doing and help your mind and body in the process.

    If you're stress relates to having problems with digesting the material try and form study groups with other hard working people and you'll find this will help you out when trying to deal with seemingly unlearnable material. It also makes it a lot easier because multiple people tackling a problem or set of problems offer different insights into the concepts and topics involved.

    Also be honest with yourself. Engineering is a hard degree that is fairly demanding on a person but others have gone through exactly the same thing as you. Ask some of the people like your lecturers, professors, or tutors for advice on managing the course because they have been through it like you and no doubt would have had times where they were pulling out their hair just like you.
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