Life at TU


Counseling Center

Stress Reduction

Stress & Anxiety

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.

 

Mindfulness

Have you ever noticed that while sitting in class you find yourself in an argument with your roommate about something that has been bothering you about them.  Your heart starts beating more rapidly, your muscles tense, your breathing quickens, perhaps you’re even feeling angry, only to realize that your roommate is not even in the room – the conversation has taken place in your own mind. Afterwards, you can’t even recall the main points from the lecture. 

Or perhaps you failed to study as much as you would have liked for a test and the rest of the day you find yourself ensnared in a self-condemning dialogue.  The test is over and you are stuck in an unproductive state keeping you from dealing effectively with what is actually happening.

The truth is that most of us live our lives absorbed in our thoughts about what might happen or what has already happened, missing the moment to moment experience of the life that is unfolding before us.  This habit not only decreases our effectiveness but it also robs us of the full experience of our lives happening here in the present, which is the only time we get to live or act. Due to this habit, we may miss more than our class notes, we may be distracted during valuable time with our families, thinking of other things while with a lover, or off in thought in the midst of a delightful Spring day.

Of course it is important to take time to plan and reflect, but this works much better when conducted through the clarity of conscious choice, and not habitual, unproductive, discursive thinking.

Mindfulness is about cultivating full awareness of the present moment so that we can better manage stress and develop states of clarity and relaxed alertness. Some common misconceptions about mindfulness meditation is that it is about making your mind blank, feeling a specific way, or running away from problems.  Mindfulness is about waking up to the fullness of your life and changing your relationship to your problems, your fears, your physical or emotional pain, so that these things don’t wind up controlling you and dictating the quality of your life. Mindfulness is not an idea, it’s a practice and a lifestyle cultivated by making a commitment to it over time.

 

Counseling Center
Ward West (map)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Phone: 410-704-2512
E-mail: counseling@towson.edu

 

Make An Appointment

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Call 410-704-2512

Monday - Friday

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

or visit the Counseling Center

at Ward & West (map)



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