Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but how we make sense of it and respond to it can make a world of difference for our well-being. The more skills that we have for stress management and positive self-care, the more adept we become at navigating life’s challenges. Explore the links on the left for tips on being calm.
Tips for Managing Stress
Below are some general strategies that may help you manage stress:
- Practice positive self-care. Self-care is any intentional action you take to enhance your well-being. Positive self-care includes taking care of your body and mind through good nutrition, adequate sleep, and engaging in other healthy behaviors. It also involves avoiding those behaviors that are not effective to managing stress, such as using alcohol and other drugs to cope.
- Exercise. Start moving! Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Not sure where to start? Check out the Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness Center.
- Reach out to others. It's tempting to isolate ourselves when we're experiencing stress. However, talking with a trusted friend, a family member, or counselor can be beneficial in helping you process what you're experiencing.
- Re-frame your thoughts. Take perspective of the stressful situation and challenge negative thoughts. Are there other ways you could view this situation?
- Breathe. When we're stressed, our body changes - heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing all increase. One way to counteract these effects of stress is to practice deep breathing. Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your abdomen. Take in slow, deep breaths through the nose. Pause, then breathe out through the mouth. The hand on your abdomen should rise and fall with your breaths, while the hand on your chest should move very little.
- Engage in a relaxation exercise. In addition to deep breathing, there are a number of other exercises that can engage your body's relaxation response, including progressive muscle relaxation and visualization. Some also find activities like drawing, coloring, and listening to music to be relaxing.
- Spend time with animals. Even if you live far away from your furry friend, you can visit with animals in the community. Take some time to visit animals or volunteer at the humane society, or visit Evansville's Cat Cafe. Also, mark your calendars - each week before final exams, Rice Library and RFWC offer a program called Paws & Play, where therapy dogs come to campus!
- Write in a journal. Journaling can be a helpful way to process and express thoughts and emotions.
- Practice gratitude. Reflecting on the things that we are grateful for can decrease feelings of stress and help cultivate a more positive outlook. At the end of the day, try writing down three good things that happened or three things that you are grateful for. Be as specific as you can!
- Use adaptive time management skills. Being overwhelmed by competing demands is a common source of stress for students. Learn how to make a prioritized schedule here.
USI Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - People seek assistance from the CAPS for a variety of reasons. Whether a student is having difficulties adjusting to college life, struggling with depression, questioning his or her identity, experiencing difficulties with body-image, or coping with the loss of a loved one, CAPS is here to provide support, guidance, and a fresh perspective. CAPS provides both on-campus scheduled counseling and virtual-campus scheduled counseling. USI students can also access free virtual counseling through TimelyCare.
Talk Campus App - Get instant support for your mental health any time of day and night through the TalkCampus app. Talk anonymously to students from universities and colleges around the world going through the exact same struggles you are any time of day or night.
Resilience Toolkit - As a part of their Resilience Project, Wofford College created a useful toolkit of well-being exercises based on the scientific study of happiness. These exercises meant to provide students with some additional tools for resilience.
Free Guided Meditations - These guided meditations are from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and are free to stream or download. This site includes guided meditations for sleep, body relaxation, breathing, and working through difficult emotions/situation.
Breathing Exercises - Learn about different breathing techniques that promote relaxation and reduce stress (University of Michigan).
Calm Free Resources: Explore a variety of free resources including meditations, practices, videos, and music designed to ease stress from the Calm App.
The Trevor Project: Provides mental health information & 24/7 support to LGBTQ+ young people.
Mental Health Resource Center: Explore a variety of resources from the JED Foundation to support mental health and emotional wellbeing.