December 01, 2021

Tips on how to manage stress

Stress is something college students know all too well, especially during the COVID pandemic. Stress is how the brain responds to any demand, positive or negative. This includes academic and work demands, family and friend expectations, financial concerns, and worry about your health and the health of loved ones.

Stress impacts everyone! It can cause fatigue, muscle tension, and headaches. Prolonged stress can even weaken our immune system. Stress can cause poor concentration, memory impairment, and difficulty problem-solving. It makes it more difficult for us to initiate tasks, stay organized, and complete things in a timely manner; all skills we need to do our best. Increased stress can lead to irritability, agitation, anxiety, and impatience. We may experience sadness, withdraw from others, and/or have emotional outbursts.

To manage stress, do what you can do to create a feeling of control over your circumstances. Know what resources you can access to achieve your goals and what strategies help you the most. To the extent possible, decrease the amount of stress producing activities in your life. Acknowledge the need to let go of the things you cannot control and recognize the limits of your responsibility.

To cope with stress, it is important for you to take care of your body through balanced eating, exercise, and adequate sleep. Take prescribed medications as directed, and avoid alcohol and other substances. Make time for things that bring you joy and stay connected with your loved ones and support system. Finally, carve out distraction-free blocks of time for relaxation exercises. To start, here are some example techniques you can try:

Breathing exercises:

Visualization exercise:

Guided muscle relaxation exercises:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff are here to support you and can provide additional strategies to help cope with stress. You do not have to wait for assistance. Counselors are available for same-day appointments by calling 618- 453-5371, Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from 12:30 p.m.-9 p.m. You can also walk in to any of our offices to meet with our counselor on duty.