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Many ASU students take positive steps to manage stress, such as:
Stress and Academic Performance:
ASU students reported the following items as being traumatic or very difficult to handle within the last 12 months:
Sources: American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment: Arizona State University Metro Phoenix Campuses Spring 2018. Baltimore: American College Health Association; Spring 2018 (n=1.304).
What is Stress?
Stress is the way we react or respond physically, mentally, and/or emotionally to various conditions, changes, and demands of life.
Stress is rooted in the “fight or flight” response which produces changes in the body that prepare us to respond to exciting or dangerous situations. Once the situation has passed or is under control, our stress response subsides, allowing us to relax.
Stress is not all bad. The stress response prepares our bodies and minds for action, and can help us perform at our optimal levels to manage the situations that we are facing. However, the constant demands of academic and personal life can build up stress levels without allowing us to unwind and become fully relaxed. This can lead to stress overload or distress.
Top Stressors for ASU Students
Stressors are internal (self) or external (environment) demands that have the potential to produce stress. Factors or events, either real or imagined, can create a state of stress.
Stressors can generally be divided into two classes:
Ongoing everyday chronic stressors commonly faced by college students can be grouped into the following categories:
Isolated or major events commonly faced by college students can be grouped into the following categories:
The Good and Bad of Stress
Stress can be motivating and energizing. Stress about school can motivate you to study to achieve the grades you want to earn. Having a busy schedule can motivate you to prioritize and clear your calendar for important activities. Being strapped for money can motivate you to work harder to get a promotion or a better paying job. Relationship conflicts can motivate you to build communication skills. When stressors come at a rate and intensity we can handle, it can be a benefit to well-being.
However, unmanaged stress or hard to handle stressors can compromise well-being.
Symptoms of Stress May Include
Most ASU students have experienced symptoms that indicate that their stressors are becoming hard to manage. Feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do, feeling exhausted (not from physical activity), feeling very sad, and/or feeling overwhelming anxiety are common among college students. It is important to learn to manage stress to reduce these stress symptoms.
Some students struggle more with stress. These students experience feelings of distress, such as feeling so depressed it is difficult to function, seriously considering and/or attempting suicide. These feelings are not common and are an indication that the student is in need of assistance from family, friends, and professional staff.
Resilience is the ability to withstand, or adapt, to stress and life’s challenges. It is a quality that can be developed throughout life as we experience disappointment, change, adversity and loss. Resilience is strengthened by:
Source: Public Broadcasting Station. (2015). This emotional life: what is resilience?
The following stress management tips are designed to help ASU students find their stress management groove:
Take an online quiz/assessment and learn more about your stress and resilience. Determine what actions you will take to manage your stress and to build your resilience.
Take a stress management class for credit
SWU250 Stress Management Tools 1 offers students the opportunity to understand how stress impacts quality of life by exploring nutrition, exercise, passion, vision, relationships, environment and relationships while developing strategies to manage stress through mindfulness.
SWU349 Stress Management Tools 2 offers students the opportunity to identify personal strategies in managing stress while deepening their mindfulness practice. Students explore the impact of instinct, happiness, physiology of the nervous system, gratitude, mindful relationships, mindful eating and sustainable living.
SWG579 Critical Incident Stress Management explores the impact of trauma and vicarious trauma while regaining homeostasis through mindfulness and quality of life.
Living Well @ ASU provides information on stress, stress management and other aspects of wellness, and provides a guide for setting wellness goals.
We can all use a little care and concern, from our friends and even our acquaintances. When you recognize signs of stress and distress in someone you know, try these support strategies:
Work out at your Sun Devil Fitness Complex. Sign up for courses in aquatics, fitness and safety education. Join a sports club or intramural team. Attend outdoor recreation programs and instructional programs.
Get a massage at Sun Devil Fitness or ASU Health Services.
Spa Night – takes place once per semester at the Well Devil Suite at each location. Chair massage, healthy cooking, mindfulness activities and more. Check the ASU calendar for more information.