Admissions & Aid
If you have been experiencing an increased sense of stress lately, congratulate yourself. It probably shows that you are in touch with your feelings. However, if you feel bad or somehow inadequate because you feel stressed, think again. No one escapes stress.
A major difference between those who feel overwhelmed by stress and those who do not is not the presence or absence of stress, but the ability to recognize stress when it occurs and to manage it.
Stress management involves four overall tasks:
How Vulnerable Are You to Stress?
Treating Stress and Anxiety Naturally
Dealing With Stress: Exercise
Dealing with Stress: Meditation
Your Holiday Energy and Stress Level
Over-stress reactions include a wide range of symptoms, including physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive (thought process) signs.
It’s important to recognize that these are all signs of stress overload, probably not of more a more serious condition.
It goes almost goes without saying that attending college is in itself inherently stressful: There are so many activities, decisions, expenses, expectations, and new roles involved. Many people do not realize how great an impact this stress can have on their happiness and sense of well-being. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of attending college can be the disparity between its stressfulness, on one hand, and, on the other, expectations that it will be a time of happiness and fulfillment.
Remember that other sources of stress (not related to college) don’t go away because you are attending college. In fact, these additional stressors compound college stress. Keep in mind that all change in stressful, including good change. Common sources of high stress can include:
Some of these stressors are controllable. For example, some activities and commitments are optional. You control whether to accept many social invitations, how many classes to take at a time, etc. Other stressors are beyond your control. No one can prevent all personal losses and illnesses.
To deal with over-stress, you must first recognize and manage of those sources of stress that are within your control.
If you are experiencing symptoms of serious stress overload, you must consider doing what you can to reduce your stress load. Sometimes this means dropping a class or working fewer hours at your job, for example, even if it means taking longer to finish your degree or doing with a bit less money than you had planned for a limited time.
You may need to reexamine your assumptions about how much you expect yourself to handle. It can be painful to realize that we can’t necessarily do and accomplish everything that we would like during the time we have in mind or have available. Some choices are difficult. Use time management strategies to prioritize and set limits.
Many social obligations can be deferred. Sometimes it seems that everyone wants to get together. This can be fun, but sometimes it’s too much. There are only so many hours in the day. People will understand when you tell them that you are overtaxed by the demands of college.
Even after you’ve done what you can to control sources of stress, there will probably be plenty of “uncontrollable” stressors remaining. Never fear, there are many strategies to help support yourself and cope with stress reactions.
There are many additional things you can do to support your ability to handle and recover from stress.
Don’t pressure yourself to make too many changes all at once. We all change at our own pace.
If, after trying these suggestions, you still feel excessively over-stressed or run down, you might want to seek some professional advice.