Stress and anxiety have become a major part of our life as Americans. Well actually, you could say that stress has always been part of human life since the beginning of existence! We feel stressed when the demands on our life are not met with equally effective coping strategies. I am sure that many of us have excellent coping strategies in some areas, but completely lack adequate resources in others. College life can be very stressful, even if our parents and faculty tend to idealize their college experiences as a time "free of worry and responsibility". The college life today is full of stress and frustration. We are competing for grades, needing to perform, managing relationships, coping with social anxieties, making career choices in an ever changing market, and living in fear of AIDS and other health concerns. There are many areas of college life that cause stress, not to mention living conditions and money problems!
How to better manage stress and anxiety
Most people tend to react to stress without thinking. Depending on the situation, you may avoid it completely, take out your emotions on others, and either withdraw or confront the situation head on. Depending on the consequences and people involved, we all react to stressful situations in a variety of ways. Below are some strategies to help you assess, prioritize, and manage stress. College is an ongoing challenge; to be successful you must accept change, develop a support system, and most importantly BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
1. Assess your priorities – determine what should require the most energy and what should not. Organize your day according to activity priority (i.e. #1 study for exam, #2 go to the bank, #3 do laundry, #4 meet friends for dinner.)
2. Find your weakness – Do not leave planning for stressful situations to the last minute. Visualize the event, recognize points of stress, plan accordingly, and get it done.
3. Adjust Expectations – Base your expectation in REALITY! The key word is perfectionism! High levels of stress and anxiety are to be likely if you feel the need to perform perfectly, behave like someone you are not, or are inflexible with your priorities. Expecting more than is humanly possible for you and others can lead to disappointment.
4. Stay healthy – Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and relaxation can decrease your blood pressure, strengthen muscles, and reduce stress and anxiety.
It is important to recognize when stress becomes harmful. Should you discover that you need assistance in managing the stress in your life, call the Towson University Counseling Center staff for help. Overall, the stress that we all experience can be helpful and motivating. The problems arise when you experience too much stress. Below are some additional resources to aid in recognizing stress and anxiety, learning coping strategies, and increasing the enjoyment of your college experience.