Health Topics

Stress Management

Stress can be good and bad.  Good stress can propel us onward with excitement and heightening our experience while bad stress can cause us anxiety and detract from our abilities, sometimes disabling us completely.

Click here for more information about Stress Managment: Stress Management WellFacts Sheet

Types of Stress

Calm / Relaxation

When our stress level is extremely low our performance also remains low.This is when you are lounging by a pool or laying in bed, not doing anything but feeling calm and relaxed.This stress level is not ideal when we need to get a job done but is a necessary part of life. Allowing the body to release the built-up tension is a healthy practice.

Eustress

Although stress is associated with negative effects, it can have positive effects on us.There is an optimal amount of stress, which heightens our abilities. This type of stress becomes desirable when we need to perform at our best in a sports game, job interview, or school exam.

Distress

When we experience bad stress we often feel anxiety, muscular tension, fatigue, irritability, racing heart, or an upset stomach.These are just a few of the many responses our bodies can have in response to distress.

 

Triggers & Stress Responses

Learning to recognize your stress triggers and stress responses can help you identify when you are becoming stressed and help you relax quicker. Identifying your cues and responses will take time and effort.Next time you are stressed take notice of your physical and mental responses and any events that preceded your stress episode.

 

Common Stress Triggers

Getting charged extra at the grocery store

Social interactions

Change in financial obligations

Fear of failure (specific task)

Presenting a project in class

Having multiple exams scheduled on the same day

Fighting with a friend

 

Stress elicits physical and mental responses that are triggered by the sympathetic nervous system. This involuntary system activates responses, unique to every individual.These stress responses fall into three categories: fight, flight, and freeze. Becoming aware of your personal stress responses will help you catch stress quickly and enable you to begin using coping techniques to reverse it.

 

Common Stress Responses

Fight

Flight

Freeze

Tense Muscles

Rapid Breathing

Immobility

Intense Thinking

Fear

Hopelessness

Anger

Increased Heart Rate

Feeling Faint

 

Coping with Stress

Do:

  • Count to ten before responding or reacting
  • Take some deep breaths
  • Go for a walk
  • Do a quick meditation
  • Sleep on it
  • Turn on Relaxing music

Don't:

  • Eat to calm down
  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Procrastinate
  • Under or over sleep

Practice

Simple breathing exercises can help relieve stress quickly and effectively. Practice this easy 4,7,8 breathing technique whenever you are feeling stressed:

  1. Sit up straight, do not use a backrest.

  2. Quickly exhale, releasing all the air in your lungs preparing to begin.

  3. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds.

  4. Hold for 7 seconds.

  5. Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.

         (Repeat 3-5 times)

 

For more information please email healthed@smu.edu