Coping with college: stress management workshop offers tips to students

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Benjamin Spear, UT Counseling and Mental Health Center staff member, speaks at a stress management workshop hosted by the Student Employee Excellence Development Program on Tuesday afternoon. The workshop aimed to educate students about different ways they can handle their stress.

Photo Credit: Jarrid Denman | Daily Texan Staff

It is no secret college students are stressed. The real secret is how to handle this stress. 

In a stress management workshop hosted by the Student Employee Excellence Development Program Tuesday, Dr. Laura Ebady, UT Counseling and Mental Health Center staff psychologist, talked to students and young adults about how to deal with overwhelming stress both on their own and with services offered through UT.

In the 2012 National College Health Assessment Survey taken by the UT Wellness Network, students indicated that stress is their biggest handicap to academic performance. This finding has been reflected in the same survey for several years.

“Clearly, for us, that is a big indicator that students are needing additional help in managing work in addition to other things they are involved with,” Ebady said. “I think college students have stressors that are unique to them in that this is the first time they are living on their own. Especially in a school the size of UT, it can be overwhelming figuring out where you fit in … It’s a whole lot to learn all
at once.” 

Ebady recommended deep breathing to the workshop participants as a way to provide perspective to stressful situations. In addition, stress-management services are provided to all students through the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center. These services include a MindBody Lab, a Stress Recess website and counseling.

Dr. Jane Bost, UT Counseling and Mental Health Center associate director, said students experience more stress in college now than in previous years. University counseling centers are seeing more crises over the last 10 to 15 years than ever before, according to Bost.

“There’s more pressure [now] just to get into college, and then the academic standards have gotten more rigorous,” Bost said. “It seems that it is a harder balance for students to handle and balance all of the demands in their lives.”

With all of these factors in play, some students feel that a certain degree of stress is inevitable. Neurobiology sophomore Taylor Lindgren said she thinks stress is not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think that a healthy amount of stress is an inherent part of college,” Lindgren said. “Things important to you should stress you out — like getting good grades — but not overwhelmingly.”

Bost said it is important to be able to differentiate healthy stress from unhealthy stress.

“One of the things we talk about with stress is it’s not that we want to get rid of it. It’s not a bad thing,” Bost said. “Most of us, without some level of stress, wouldn’t perform well. It’s not a case of getting rid of stress, it’s a case of managing it and trying to keep it at a level to maximize performance.”