How often have you heard this statement around campus? How often have you said it? (Or thought it?) “Oh, my gosh! I’m so stressed out!” Being a student can be very stressful. There are a lot of demands on your time and energy and too much stress can make it even harder to do what you need to get done, let alone enjoy the college experience. The good news is that you don’t have to let stress take over your life. There are lots of things that you can do to cope with stress in healthy ways.
Take short breaks, and reward yourself for meeting small goals by doing something else for a little while.
Offer or ask for a hug from a friend, family member, or roommate.
Give yourself a foot rub or get a friend to massage your shoulders.
Play with a child or a pet.
Talk to a friend or family member (call your mother, sister, or best friend).
Write in a journal.
Listen to relaxing or upbeat music.
Get out some nice smelling oils, candles, etc.
Read or watch something that makes you laugh.
Clean or organize something.
Take a short walk to get some fresh air.
Sit down at the piano, get out your guitar, or blast some music on your trumpet.
Play a quick video game.
Go shoot a few hoops or kick a soccer ball around with some buddies.
Bake some cookies.
Sources of StressThe first thing to do is identify the sources of stress in your life. They can be due to the circumstances in your life as well as issues that go on inside your head. Here are some examples of things that may be causing you stress. Rate each of them on how much stress you are feeling from these sources. (1 = no stress, 5 = huge stress). UPCOMING DEADLINES: All of the things that have to get done in your class: exams, papers, homework assignments, projects, etc. PREVIOUS DEADLINES: Getting behind, trying to catch up, guilt over not doing what you should have been doing YOUR JOB: Pressure or problems at work, trying to fit in work and school MONEY: Trying to make ends meet, getting enough money for tuition next semester, dealing with debt, etc. RELATIONSHIPS: Tension with roommates, boyfriend or girlfriend issues, family problems, etc. ANNOYANCES: Losing your keys, dropping your soda, getting stuck in traffic, a sink full of dirty dishes, not being able to find a parking place, etc. HEALTH: Getting a cold, worrying about unexplained symptoms you are having, dealing with chronic health issues, being pregnant, dealing with substance abuse issues, worrying about the health problems of a loved one, etc. WORRIES: Feeling pressure to do well, expectations of your parents or yourself, fear of not doing well, negative thoughts about classes or professors, etc. THE FUTURE: Not knowing what to major in or what classes to take next, facing big decisions that you need to make, conflicting priorities
Effects of StressOnce you have recognized the sources of stress in your life, next it helps to notice what effects those stresses are having on you, both physically and mentally. Here are some common problems caused by stress. Check off any that you are typical for you when you are feeling a lot of stress. Headaches Trouble sleeping Acne Digestive problems (ulcers, gas, etc.) Backaches Neck pain Feeling tired all the time Tight muscles Muscle cramps Illness Weight loss/weight gain Trouble concentrating Getting frustrated easily Lack of patience Feeling hopeless or depressed Fear or anxiety Having trouble remembering things Mood swings Feeling angry or irritable Lack of motivation
7 ways to deal with stressKnowing what effects stress is having on you can motivate you to do something about it. You can’t usually eliminate the sources of stress in your life, but there are things you can do to help you cope with them better and avoid some of the negative effects.
1. First of all, avoid unhealthy ways of dealing with stressDon’t make it worse! Some of the ways people deal with stress actually make the problem worse. If you find yourself resorting to these behaviors when stress hits, it’s time to replace them with better behaviors. Do you ever use any of these unhealthy ways of dealing with stress? Check off any that you sometimes do in unhealthy ways or amounts.
- Addictive drugs (heroin, cocaine, pain meds, etc.)
- Sitting around doing nothing
- Facebook or texting
- Getting angry
- Eating junk food
- Video games