Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has both physical and emotional effects on us, and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action. As a negative influence, stress can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, and more.

We all experience stress as we readjust our lives, especially during college. In so adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

How Can I Eliminate Stress from My Life?

Positive stress adds anticipation and excitement to life, and we all thrive under a certain amount of stress. Our goal is not to eliminate stress but to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us. Insufficient stress acts as a depressant and may leave us feeling bored or dejected; on the other hand, too much stress may leave us feeling “tied up in knots.” What we need to do is find the optimal level of stress which will individually motivate but not overwhelm each of us.

How Can I Manage Stress Better?

Simply being aware of our stress and the effect it has on our lives is not enough to reduce stress. Just as there are many sources of stress, there are many possibilities for its management. However, all require effort toward change: changing the source of your stress and/or changing your reaction to your stress.

  1. Become aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions.
    • Notice your distress. Don’t ignore it.
    • Determine how your body responds to the stress.
  2. Recognize what you can change.
    • Can you change your stressors by avoiding or eliminating them?
    • Can you shorten your exposure to stress by taking a break, leaving the premise, etc.?
    • Can you devote the time and energy necessary to making a change, through goal setting, time management techniques, etc.?
  3. Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress.
    • Are you expecting to please everyone?
    • Are you overrating and viewing things as absolutely critical and urgent?
    • Try to see stress as something you can cope with rather than something that overpowers you.
  4. Learn to moderate your physical reactions to stress.
    • Slow, deep breathing will bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal.
    • Relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension.
    • Medications, when prescribed by a physician, can help in the short term in moderating your physical reactions. However, they alone are not the answer.
  5. Build your physical reserves.
    • Exercise for fitness three to four times a week (walking, swimming, jogging).
    • Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals.
    • Maintain your ideal weight.
    • void nicotine, excessive caffeine, and other stimulants.
    • Mix leisure with work.
    • Get enough sleep.
  6. Maintain your emotional reserves.
    • Develop some mutually supportive friendships/relationships.
    • Pursue realistic goals which are meaningful to you, rather than goals others have for you that you do not share.
    • Expect some frustrations, failures, and sorrows.
    • Always be kind with your yourself—be a friend to yourself.