Steps to help relieve stress


Stress—a word that is by no means foreign to college students. College students deal with high levels of stress due to academic pressures, relationships, new environments and plans for the future.

“I have polled my large sections of General Psychology students around mid- to late-semester to determine their main source of stress,” said Amanda Jantzer, assistant psychology professor. “Semester after semester, the biggest source of stress for students is academic stress. However, stress related to relationships is also somewhat common.”

Stress impacts everyone individually. There are several common symptoms of high-level stress: mood-related symptoms such as irritability, physical symptoms like body insomnia or digestive issues and cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and memory loss. 

For an individual to learn how to handle stress, he or she must identify how stress affects his or her body.

Jantzer said one way to help with stress is through “problem-focused coping strategies,” or a strategy used to change the nature or remove the stressful situation. Emotion and cognitive-focused methods may be useful if the stressor cannot be removed or changed.

“Students should be careful not to over-rely on strategies that mainly involve avoiding their stressors,” Jantzer said. “Although this may be fine in the short-term, if used rigidly, avoidance-coping is not associated with good outcomes.”

Kelsea Hournbuckle, a senior math education major, described what helps her cope with stress the most.

“My student planner is my life. It really is. I’d be completely lost without it. By knowing my schedule and laying it all out, it calms my nerves,” Hournbuckle said. “I also remind myself to just take it one day at a time – and to breathe, because breathing is good.”

Flexibility and planning ahead are highly recommended for students. Being organized is one way to lower stressors with college students.

“One of the things that stresses me out is sudden deadlines and homework overload,” said Bryan Goettch, a senior animal science major. “I deal with it by ‘self-collection’ like journaling, listening to music appropriate for the mood and getting motivated.”

Students may find healthy mental or physical ways, like exercise or meditation, to cope better with stress. If the student’s level of stress becomes severe, it is encouraged for students to see a counselor at SDSU Counseling Services.