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 What is stress?

  • Stress is an emotional/bodily reaction to physical, psychological or emotional demands.
  • Stress is a fact of life.

Managed stress can become useful and healthy (viewing events as challenges).

Unmanaged stress can become distressful and unhealthy (viewing events as threats).

What are some of the causes of stress?

  • Expectations we place on ourselves.
  • Expectations of others.
  • Our physical environment, such as noise, movement, weather or seasonal changes.
  • Our internal environment, such as academic pressure, frustration, not enough time, decisions and social life.

What are some symptoms of unmanaged stress?

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Feeling tense or irritable, fatigue or depression.
  • Apathy, lack of interest and inability to concentrate.
  • Avoidance behaviours, such as abuse of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

What are ways to manage stress effectively?

  • Add balance to life. Don't overdo studies, work or play. Finding a balance takes practice, so when one area of your life feels stressful, think of how you could better manage other obligations so that you deal with the stressor. For example, perhaps giving up a $60 to $80 shift at work will allow you to get some crucial school work done, or even pass an exam or course.
  • Know and accept your strengths and weaknesses. Use your strengths to manage your stress.
  • Get a thorough physical exam in case your stress has a physical cause.
  • Take time outs, especially during study. Schedule breaks to ensure that you take a breather from studying.
  • Expand your support network, reinforce friendships and lean on family members or loved ones for support and advice!
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Monitor your breathing.
  • Learn and practice relaxation skills. Mindfulness meditation is great!
  • Study each subject regularly for short (one to two hour) periods of time.
  • Discuss problems with your friends, family, dean or counsellor. Don’t hold in your emotions or feelings. Talking them through with someone you trust can give you relief.


©Adapted from Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001

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