Handling the pinch

Aug 242004
Authors: Nicole Burbank

As a new school year begins, many freshmen are faced with

anxieties most have not had to deal with before: the stress of

leaving home and coming to an environment which they feel they must

adapt to as quickly as possible.

“At first, the seeming loss of key relationships with close

friends and family can force someone just leaving home to go

through a kind of grieving process,” said Dr. Charles Davidshofer,

director of the University Counseling Center. “And when such a

person doesn’t build new relationships soon, it affects their lives

in a much more significant (and negative) way.”

At the UCC, a place on campus many students and faculty go for

support, the top two problems that are seen are stress and


According to Davidshofer, the main causes of stress and

depression in someone adapting to life in a new situation center

around stressors that an individual feels they cannot control.

Common stressors are academics and interaction with friends and


Additionally, many students begin feeling a pinch almost as soon

as they arrive on campus, which only serves to agitate any

stressed-out feelings they may already harbor.

“Without people that I know well here to help me, adjusting to

being (on campus) has been very hard,” said Brittany Dowdy, a

freshman English major. “Everything seems to be happening too

suddenly. It would help if things were introduced more


The counseling center offers a stress-management program and

workshops throughout the year that outline ways to avoid and

control stress.

“Symptoms of stress are usually found in about half or more of

our clientele,” Davidshofer said.

According to a counseling center stress pamphlet, the first step

in controlling stress is identifying its cause. After that, most

individuals can learn ways of controlling their stress and calming

themselves when they get stressed-out in the future.

At the very start of the year, however, many freshmen find

themselves in a new position and the amount of time they spend in

that zone of discomfort can last from a few days to an extended

amount of time.

“Right now I feel overwhelmed because I’m in the stage of

transition (that comes) before you settle in; when you’re still in

an unknown environment,” said Asta Kula, a freshman English and

political science major.

When students find themselves in the position that Kula

described they can begin patterns of stress and depression,

Davidshofer said.

“Students making that transition are coming from a place where

they felt secure and safe and when they feel that that support

isn’t here, they tend to feel stress and anxiety over it, which if

not helped can progress to depression,” Davidshofer said.

While some students may elect to use the resources the

university offers, including the UCC, others feel that dealing with

their stress will just take time.

“What I really need to do is control my uncertainty,” said

Dowdy. “If I handle things as they come at me, I’ll learn to


Graphic ideas: A pullout box w/ info on the Counseling Center:

Open for walk-ins Mon-Fri 8-6, phone #491-6053, located in Clark

C-36, www.counseling.colostate.edu, after hours number 491-7111.

Probably something called “For more information on Stress

Management/Counseling Center”

***”Quick Tips for Stress” – taken directly from Counseling

Center website.


*Get organized and learn to plan. When possible, take on

projects one at a time and work on them until completed. If you

can’t do this, you may have too much on your plate.

*Recognize and accept limits. No one is perfect. Set achievable

goals for yourself.

*Learn to play, and laugh! Find pastimes that are enjoyable and

take time for yourself.

*Change your thinking. The things you tell yourself in your mind

create stress in the body. Whenever your mind starts running away,

say “STOP.” Refocus your thoughts on positive, constructive ideas

by taking a breath and calming down.

*Learn a method of relaxation. Make an appointment with the

Stress Management Program or browse this website to learn

relaxation techniques to relax your body and mind.

*Remind yourself that other people or situations cannot make you

“stressed.” When something comes up you can choose to react in a

stressful way, or choose to react in a calm way. Learning

relaxation skills is helpful in achieving this.

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