Liz Garland, RN
Ask A Nurse
Dealing with stress
Maintaining balance between your intellectual, social and personal development is the key to a well-adjusted college experience. Throughout life you will experience stress. Learning to recognize the physical and psychological warning signs of stress is the key.
If the list below seems like it describes you, consider seeing a counselor. A counselor can help you in reducing an unhealthy level of stress.
- Changes in sleep patterns; taking longer to fall asleep; waking up tired and not well rested.
- Changes in eating patterns.
- More frequent headaches.
- Shorter temper than normal for you.
- Recurring colds and minor illness.
- Frequent muscle ache and/or tightness.
- More disorganized than normal for you.
- Increased difficulty in task completion.
- A greater sense of persistent time pressure.
- Increased generalized frustration and anger.
Proactive stress management
It is no secret that psychological stress and physical illness are related. Stress triggers physiological and chemical (hormones) changes in the body. Physical illness is commonly accompanied with increased stress. So to manage stress, we must address physical as well as psychological factors. Please consider the following tips to manage your stress at college.
- Add a physical workout to your schedule at least every other day. One does not need to be gifted athletically to accomplish this. You can jog, power walk, use stepper, rowing or biking machines, swim or do any other form of exercise. Do not see this as "recreational time" that can be ignored. Physical activity is a great way to insure that life's minor stresses do not build.
- Set both long-term (this semester or this year) and short-term (this day or this week) goals. Write them down. Make them part of your time management schedule.
- Manage your time. Develop a schedule that provides for academic, social, and physical time. Follow the schedule! Seek the help of an advisor in developing better time management skills.
- Each day find twenty minutes of "alone time" to relax. Take a walk, write in a journal, or meditate.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Always ask yourself if the issue at hand is worth getting upset about. If it isn't affecting your goal achievement, it may not be worth fretting over. Humor and positive thinking are important tools in stress management.