It 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 overall sense of well-being. It’s important to also note that other sources of stress (not related to college) often don’t go away because of your enrollment in school. In fact, these additional stressors compound college stress. Keep in mind that all change is stressful, including good change. Common sources of high stress can include: Work, Workload, Coping with a loss, Illness, Demands at home, Moving, Travel, Over-commitment, and Health problems etc…(Sound familiar?)

Signs of Stress/Distress

Being over- stressed can lead to reactions including a wide range of symptoms. Everyone responds to stress in different ways, if you or someone you know is displaying more than one of these symptoms, please seek additional assistance.

Physical symptoms:

  • Stomach ache, headache, dizziness, eye strain
  • Sleep problems (too little or too much)
  • Problems concentrating


  • Moodiness (Feeling low or depressed)
  • Anxiety (Tense, nervous, jumpy, unable to relax)
  • Irritable or hostile (Getting angry over minor things)
  • Fearfulness (Afraid to make decisions)


  • Exaggerating normal behavior (hard workers turn into workaholics; quiet people become isolated)
  • Withdrawing (from friends, family, and coworkers)
  • Working harder (but getting less done)
  • Blaming others (finding fault, being critical or hard to please)
  • Having fewer stress-free conversations with family and friends
  • Having fights (about everything and nothing)
  • Sharing fewer satisfactions with family and friends
  • Having other family members with stress problems (Stress is contagious.)
  • Pretending that nothing is wrong (denial)


“This is horrible/unbearable,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m going to go crazy.”

How to Manage Stress

When managing stress, it’s important to first distinguish between sources of stress that are within your control, and those that are not. Remember, some activities and commitments are optional. You control whether or not to accept social invitations, how many classes to take at a time, your involvement in numerous clubs or organizations, even your role within those organizations. Keep in mind that when a stressor is beyond your control, such as personal losses and illnesses you can decide how think and act as a result of these uncontrollable stressors. We also can make choices that either increase or reduce our stress: Building time management skills, prioritizing, goal setting, learning ways to build relaxation and even knowing when to say “NO” are all essential ways to improve stress management.

Positive stress reduction techniques

  • Relaxation Techniques (Click here for a guided relaxation lesson in English: Meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Visualization exercises
  • Using Water (warm showers, singing in, swimming, drinking more of it)
  • Changes in thinking
  • Physical exercise and Activities
  • Listening to Music
  • Artistic creations
  • Finding spiritual space
  • Sharing
  • Practicing cathartic emotional release
  • Avoiding/reducing Caffeine use
  • Avoiding Drugs and/or Alcohol
  • Giving yourself a “Timeout”
  • Speaking to someone
  • Seeking professional help.

For more information on stress management please visit us at Counseling and Psychological Services to speak with one of our counselors.

CAPS has created a Podcast, which includes a meditation exercise. The Podcast is intended to help users release negative stress and increase overall wellness. Please contact us for Podcast access or if you would like any other topics to be featured in our Podcast series. Please check back soon for updates…