Stress is one of the most common concerns of college students. Stress is the body’s response to the demands of life, both negative AND positive. These demands can take up time, physical and mental/emotional energy, and/or finances. Some sources of stress in college include adjusting to a new routine, increased responsibility, living with roommates, facing new social and relationship experiences, financial constraints, and striving to meet expectations related to academics.
Stress is a normal part of life and important for success. A moderate amount of stress can be a positive influence when it motivates you to be active and productive, such as when you are working to meet academic deadlines. Too much stress can interfere with the ability to accomplish day-to-day responsibilities. Excessive stress that is not addressed can contribute to mental and physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Some symptoms common in individuals who experience excessive stress levels are shown below.
Muscle tension or pain
Difficulty regulating emotions
Emotional lability (shifting)
Over or under-eating
Drug or alcohol abuse
Anxiety is often confused with stress. Stress refers to the effect of the demands on our life (both good and bad) that can deplete our emotional, financial, time, and energy resources. Anxiety is an internal response to situations in which a person is overwhelmed with uncertainty, fear, and/or danger. In periods of significant stress, it is common to experience heightened anxiety and/or other symptoms listed above.
Managing stress involves a three-pronged approach:
These three approaches all involve engaging in self-care. Taking time to care for ourselves by attending to our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health is an important aspect of stress management. The self-care activities listed below help us to find relaxation, connection, fulfillment, and peace by finding new ways to alter the amount of stress we face or engaging in activities to combat the effect stress has on us.
American Psychological Association
APA’s information about the experience of dealing with stress
CDC’s Information about Coping with Stress
Learn from the Centers for Disease Control about how to cope with stress
Surviving Stress in College
The student guide to managing stress in college and beyond
Help Guide’s description of various relaxation techniques you can try on your own
Skills You Need
Ten tips for managing stress
Do Nothing for 2 Minutes
2-minute meditation from Calm
UCF’s Online Relaxation Training
Audio recordings of various relaxation techniques from UCF’s Wellness & Health Promotion Services
Wellcast Video on Stress Management
A 2-minute video on how to recognize and manage stress
Brainsmart Video on Managing Stress
Another 2-minute video that discusses the experience of stress and how to manage it
TED-Ed Video on Chronic Stress and Physical Health
Watch a 4-minute video on how chronic stress can cause physical problems in the body
Ted Talk on the How to Make Stress Your Friend
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal provides a new perspective on stress and its impact on us