You say it’s just a part of life at the University of Michigan. You talk about the stress of balancing multiple priorities and struggling to find time to take a break. Sometimes you may even worry that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not stressed out. And while there are stressful aspects of the college experience and ones we can’t always control, what you can control is how you respond to stress.
For starters, there’s good stress and there’s bad stress. Eustress is good stress, the kind of stress that helps students stay focused and achieve new goals. Bad stress is categorized as having an impact over a longer period of time that can negatively effect overall wellness. Most students can relate to a certain level of stress. But how do you know when it’s too much? Some of the following can be signs that stress is having a compounding impact: fatigue/loss of energy, missing deadlines or procrastinating to the point of anxiety, binge or reduced eating, erratic sleep habits, difficulty focusing, relationship problems (family, friends, loved ones), anxiety/panic attacks, feelings of depression and/or loss of interest in everyday things
What you can do:
Stress management is an important skill and it is worth taking the time to figure out what works best for you. Taking care of your mind and body can go a long way toward managing your stress level and help restore you to balance.
Here are some suggestions:
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a healthy diet. Sugar and processed foods can make stress worse
- Exercise regularly. Find movements that you enjoy and that allow you to release tension
- Learn deep breathing/relaxation techniques like these one-minute stress strategies
- Meditate, for example with mindfulness-based meditation
- Find quiet places to study at U-M
- Practice saying "no" to situations and people that add stress to your life
- Get a massage
- Talk with a friend or someone you trust
- Limit your caffeine intake and avoid using alcohol or other drugs to relieve stress
- Manage your time and energy -- you can prioritize your "to-do" list!
- Laugh! Watch a funny movie or try Laugh Yoga
- Take time for relaxation, fun and hobbies. See Rejuvenation 101 & fun things to do in Ann Arbor.
Sometimes we need help beyond ourselves, and beyond what our friends and family can provide. If you (or a friend) are looking for help managing stress and anxiety, take a look at the following resources. Seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness.
Where to go for help on campus:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) : Free, confidential services for U-M students including: Short-term psychotherapy, workshops for changing patterns of behavior, assessment of substance abuse patterns, sexual assault counseling and more.
- Campus Mind Works: This site provides information and resources for students diagnosed with an on-going mental disorder, including a searchable database.
- MI Talk: ("My Talk") A with mental health resources and online screenings for depression and anxiety, recorded workshops, lectures and relaxation exercises, and emergency resources.
Contributed by Joy Pehlke, UHS Health Educator