Many students find that they need to develop new stress management skills in order to balance academic demands with a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, Southern Utah University offers many resources to help students develop these skills. Many students find that they can reduce their level of academic stress by improving skills such as time management, stress management, and relaxation.
Are you experiencing too much stress?
Here are a few common indicators:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased worrying
- Trouble completing assignments on time
- Not going to class
- Short temper or increased agitation
- Tight muscles
- Changes in eating habits (e.g., “stress eating”)
- Changes in sleeping habits
People with mental health disorders are more likely to notice that their specific symptoms reemerge or grow worse during stressful times. In many cases, stress can act as the “spark” that ignites a mental health episode. But this does not mean that every time you are busy or face a difficult challenge you will have a mental health episode. Not everyone responds the same way to potentially stressful circumstances. For example, during final exams many students feel very overwhelmed and anxious, while others are able to keep their stress under control. If you are one of the many people who have difficulty managing stress during difficult times, look for some helpful tips below.
Ways of reducing and managing stress:
- A feeling of control and a healthy balance in your schedule is a necessary part of managing stress. Learning how to manage your responsibilities, accomplish your goals and still have time for rest and relaxation requires that you practice time management skills.
- Try setting a specific goal for yourself that will improve your mood and help you reduce stress. Start by filling out a goal-setting worksheet.
- Avoid procrastination. Putting off assignments or responsibilities until the last minute can create more mental and physical stress than staying on top of them. Procrastination can affect many aspects of daily life, such as the quality of your work, the quality of your sleep, and your mood.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you burn off the energy generated by stress.
- Practice good sleep habits to ensure that you are well-rested. Sleep deprivation can cause many physical and mental problems and can increase stress.
- Try mindfulness meditation. Attend a Biofeedback Demo to learn a variety of ways to work more skillfully with the stress and anxiety related to college life.
- Limit (or eliminate) the use of stimulants like caffeine, which can elevate the stress response in your body.
- Pace yourself throughout the day, taking regular breaks from work or other structured activities. During breaks from class, studying, or work, spend time walking outdoors, listen to music or just sit quietly, to clear and calm your mind.
- Start a journal. Many people find journaling to be helpful for managing stress, understanding
- emotions, and making decisions and changes in their lives.
- Realize that we all have limits. Learn to work within your limits and set realistic expectations for yourself and others.
- Plan leisure activities to break up your schedule.
- Recognize the role your own thoughts can play in causing you distress. Challenge beliefs you may hold about yourself and your situation that may not be accurate. For example, do you continuously fall short of what you think you “should” accomplish? When our minds continuously feed us messages about what we “should” achieve, “ought” to be, or “mustn't” do, we are setting ourselves up to fall short of goals that may be unrealistic, and to experience stress along the way. Learn techniques for replacing unhelpful thinking habits with balanced thoughts.
- Find humor in your life. Laughter can be a great tension-reducer.
- Seek the support of friends and family when you need to “vent” about situations that bring on stressful feelings. But make sure that you don’t focus exclusively on negative experiences; try to also think of at least three things that are going well for you, and share those experiences.
More Information on Stress
- Academic Skills, Stresses and Successes!
- Time Management Skills
- Managing Procrastination
- Biofeedback Demos
- Learn techniques for replacing unhealthy thinking habits with balanced thoughts
- Goal Setting Worksheet
SUU's Counseling and Psychological Services office is available for all students, free of charge, to help manage stress and talk through difficult issues and topics. Students who have questions about the services we provide or who would like to initiate counseling services are welcome to come by our office or to call at (435) 865-8621.
Our office is located at 136 W. University Blvd. (Center St.)
Cedar City, UT 84720.