Division of Student Affairs


Stress Management

Handling Stress:


Does that surprise you? Perhaps so, but it is quite true. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavor, challenge, and opportunity to life. Too much stress, however, can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. A major challenge in this stress-filled world of today is to make the stress in your life work for you instead of against you.  Stress is with us all the time. It comes from mental or emotional activity and physical activity. It is unique and personal to each of us. So personal, in fact, that what may be relaxing to one person may be stressful to another….  Too much emotional stress can cause physical illness such as high blood pressure, ulcers, or even heart disease; physical stress from work or exercise is not likely to cause such ailments. The truth is that physical exercise can help you to relax and to handle your mental or emotional stress…


To use stress in a positive way and prevent it from becoming distress, you should become aware of your own reactions to stressful events….While it is impossible to live completely free of stress and distress, it is possible to prevent some distress as well as to minimize its impact when it can’t be avoided…


When stress does occur, it is important to recognize and deal with it. Here are some suggestions for ways to handle stress. As you begin to understand more about how stress affects you as an individual, you will come up with your own ideas of helping to ease the tensions.

Try physical activity. When you are nervous, angry, or upset, release the pressure through exercise or physical activity. Running, walking, playing tennis, or working in your garden are just some of the activities you might try. Physical exercise will relieve that “up tight” feeling, relax you, and turn the frowns into smiles. Remember, your body and mind work together.

Share your stress. It helps to talk to someone about your concerns and worries. Perhaps a friend, family member, or teacher…can help you see your problem in a different light. If you feel your problem is serious, you might seek professional help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or mental health counselor. Knowing when to ask for help may avoid more serious problems later.

Know your limits. If a problem is beyond your control and cannot be changed at the moment, don’t fight the situation. Learn to accept what is – for now – until such time when you can change it.

Take care of yourself. You are special. Get enough rest and eat well. If you are irritable and tense from lack of sleep or if you are not eating correctly, you will have less ability to deal with stressful situations. If stress repeatedly keeps you from sleeping, you should ask your doctor for help.

Make time for fun.  Schedule time for both work and recreation. Play can be just as important to your well-being as work; you need a break from your daily routine to just relax and have fun.

Be a participant. One way to keep from getting bored, sad, and lonely is to go where it’s all happening. Sitting alone can make you feel frustrated…Offer your services in neighborhood or volunteer organizations. Help yourself by helping other people. Get involved in the world and the people around you, and you’ll find they will be attracted to you. You will be on your way to making new friends and enjoying new activities.

Check off your tasks. Trying to take care of everything at once can seem overwhelming, and as a result, you may not accomplish anything. Instead, make a list of what tasks you have to do, then do one at a time, checking them off as they’re completed. Give priority to the most important ones and do those first.

Must you always be right? Do other people upset you – particularly when they don’t do things your way? Try cooperation instead of confrontation; it’s better than fighting and always being “right” A little give and take on both sides will reduce the strain and make you both feel more comfortable.

It’s OK to cry. A good cry can be a healthy way to bring relief to your anxiety, and it might even prevent a headache or other physical consequences. Take some deep breaths; they also release tension.

Create a quiet scene. You can’t always run away, but you can “dream the impossible dream.” A quiet country scene painted mentally, or on canvas, can take you out of the turmoil of a stressful situation. Change the scene by reading a good book or playing music to create a sense of peace and tranquility.

Avoid self-medication. Although you can use prescription or over-the-counter medications to relieve stress temporarily, they do not remove the conditions that caused the stress in the first place. Medications, in fact, may be habit-forming and also may reduce your efficiency, thus creating more stress than they take away. They should be taken only on the advice of your doctor.


The best strategy for avoiding stress is to learn how to relax. Unfortunately, many people try to relax at the same pace that they lead the rest of their lives. For a while, tune out your worries about time, productivity, and “doing right”. You will find satisfaction in just being, without striving. Find activities that are good for your mental and physical well-being. Forget about always winning. Focus on relaxation, enjoyment, and health. If the stress in your life seems insurmountable, you may find it beneficial to see a mental health counselor.
Be good to yourself.

Dr. Louis Kopolow, M.D. (Extrapolated from the National Institute of Mental Health Office of Scientific Information: Plain Talk Series) (DHHS Publication No. (ADM) 91-502 Printed 1977, Revised 1983 Reprinted 1985, 1987, 1991)


Homesickness (especially for first year students).
Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority develop because of the discrepancy between high school status and initial college performance.

New or returning students begin to realize that life at college is not as perfect as they were led to believe by parents, teacher, and admissions staff.

Grief develops because of inadequate skills for finding a group or not being selected by one.
Mid-term work-load pressures are followed by feelings of failure and loss of self-esteem.
Non-dating students sense a loss of esteem because so much value is placed upon dates.

Academic pressure is beginning to mount because of procrastination, difficulty of work, and lack of ability.

Depression and anxiety increase because of feelings that one should have adjusted to the college environment by now.

Homecoming blues develop because of no date and/or lack of ability to participate in activities. Economic anxiety. Funds from parents and summer earnings begin to run out.

Extracurricular time strain; seasonal parties, concerts, social service projects, religious activities drain students.

Anxiety, fear, and guilt increase as final examinations approach and papers are due.
Pre-Holiday depression; especially for those who have concerns for family, those who have no home to visit, and for those who prefer not to go home because of family conflicts.
Financial strain because of Holiday gifts and travel costs.

Post-Holiday depression.

Many students experience optimism because with a new semester comes a new start.
Vocational choice causes anxiety and depression.

Couples begin to establish stronger ties or experience weakening of established ones.
Depression increases for those students who have failed to establish social relationships or achieve a moderate amount of recognition.

Social calendar is non-active.

Drug and alcohol use increases.

Depression begins due to anticipation of separation from friends and loved ones at college.
Academic pressures increase.

Existential crisis for seniors. Must I leave school? Is my education worth anything? Was my major a mistake?

Academic pressures continue to increase because of mid-terms.

Frustration and confusion develop because of decisions necessary for pre-registration.

Summer job pressures.

Selection of major.

Papers and exams are piling up.

The mounting academic pressures force some students to temporarily give up.

Social pressures. Everybody is bidding for your participation at trips, banquets and picnics.
Job recruitment panic.

Anxiety develops because of the realization that the year is ending.

Senior panic about jobs (lack of them).

Depression over leaving friends and facing conflicts at home.

Finals pressure and anxiety.

Counseling Center, Midtown Student Center Room 222,
Phone: 203.837.8690, Email: CounselingCenter@wcsu.edu, Fax:203.837.8416