STRESS — Why You Have It and How You Can Control It

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Stress is experienced by an alarming number of adults and college students; Glendale College students are no exception to the trend.
Stress, is defined in the dictionary as a “physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”

According to studies performed by Johns Hopkins University, 35.6 percent of students who seek counseling complain of feeling overwhelmed by difficulty of sorting things out.

But, according to GCC psychology Professor Michael Dulay, these numbers are far greater. “I’d say nine out of 10 students are under stress — they live as though they are being threatened.”

Stress, as defined by Dulay, is the world’s inconsistence with a person’s expectations.

“The physical responses to stress are dilated pupils, heart rate increase, expansion of blood vessels and increase of blood flow.” A person’s body can only survive that way for so long before exhaustion follows, Dulay said.

“I am under stress because I have to worry about both school and work,” said mechanical engineering major, Avo Terzian, 20. “I carry many responsibilities at work [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. I am a Flight Software tester on the Mars Exploration Rovers and I have to make sure that the rover does exactly what the software is telling it to do.”
Terzian is in his last year at a community college and he is worried about getting accepted into the schools he wants to transfer to. Health is another stressor for Terzian. “I am too preoccupied with school and other extracurricular activities — I have no time to take care of myself.”

Sometimes people want too many things, said Dulay. “I would argue that stress leads to a stew of psychological disorders. It causes addictions – people look to external sources of help to sustain the fight.”

Political science major at GCC, Babken DerGrigorian, 19 is also pressured by transfer requirements.

“I’m constantly making sure to keep my grades up so my GPA will stay up, so I can transfer to a good school. DerGregorian said sleeping helps him cope with the pressure exerted upon him by stress.
Constant drowsiness and sleeping more than the ordinary, are symptoms of depression, which is often the result of stress, Dulay said.

Mark Pallmar, 18, is an advertising major. He is taking the fall semester off from school in order to concentrate on his job as a car salesman.

“All sorts of problems lead me to stress and then to depression. Society sets a bar for me — the media puts a certain image out there that I have to meet. Hollywood movies always put out a happy ending. Real people in real life experience hurt,” Pallmar said.

School and work are not the only causes of stress for students. “They start it, I don’t know if they complete it. I know there are other factors that combine with those two that give me the total stress,” Terzian said.

Dulay suggests that people experiencing stress re-evaluate their priorities.

“Expecting more out of life than is humanly possible will make a person sick. People are ignorant of the self. We make the mistake of believing that truth is outside of us.”

Most disorders are preventable, Dulay said. The health center at GCC offers free counseling with graduate psychology students. Students are matched to a counselor who they can set up an appointment with; the process is anonymous.

“I relieve my stress by writing in my journal. It’s a journal that has no limits. I have drawings in there, poems, thoughts, feelings, anything I want to write about in there,” Terzian said.

“Life will always throw stuff at you. But it’s important to keep your head up and deal with it.” Terzian’s views are supported by Dulay, who agrees that keeping a journal is one of the best outlets for anxiety. “It’s like having a free shrink,” Dulay said.

“Some people give in and go suicidal. That’s taking the easy way out and humans are much stronger than that,” Terzian said. “I guess my point is — take what life throws at you and make the best out of it. It takes less energy to have feelings of negativity than to have positive feelings.”

Signs of Stress


Angry outbursts
Tendency to cry


Muscles tight or aching
Nervous tics in the eyelid
Frequent colds
Skin problem or itch


Walking or talking faster
Getting tongue-tangled
Avoiding people
Compulsive actions

Not all of these signs will be evident in a person who is under stress. Stress symptoms are different for different people. Not all
symptoms are listed.