Stress Managment

Oct 122004
Authors: J.J. Babb

Like many students, Joe Sottnik gets stressed out about


“I cope pretty well with everything else,” said Sottnik, a

graduate student studying biomedical sciences.

Some students also find sources of stress in grades, deadlines,

finances, family and other things.

But there is help.

“Our program can teach (students) these skills to cope better

with stress throughout their lives, ” said Bryan Stice, a graduate

student assistant and employee of the Stress Management Program at


The SMP is run by the University Counseling Center in the room

C10 of the Clark Building, and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday

through Friday in the fall and spring semesters. The Wellness Zone

in the Lory Student Center also offers the SMP on Tuesdays from 10

a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The SMP “enables students to learn the skills necessary to

relieve the negative consequences of stress,” according to its Web


“I think there’s some research that shows about a quarter of

students are significantly effected in their school work by

stress,” Stice said.

Although Charlie Hallenbeck, a junior landscape design major,

has never used the SMP he does feel stressed sometimes.

“I get kind of grumpy and crabby and I try to do too much at

once,” Hallenbeck said.

The SMP began in the 1970s and served several hundred students

last year with limited hours, but the program hopes to increase

hours of operation this year.

“No one is without stress,” Stice said. “It will always happen,

(students) can have better means of coping.”

Services provided by the SMP include relaxation training and

biofeedback, a biological method of learning to relax different

muscles in the body.

“Its purpose is to help students develop coping strategies that

aid in reducing debilitating chronic stress,” according to the Web


Stress management can help to:

* Identify stressors in life

* Teach skills to assist in managing stressors

* Teach application of these skills in daily life

* Alleviate stress related to evaluation situations such as test

taking, math and public speaking.

“A big reason (to be stressed) is a lot of times students have a

difficult time adjusting to a new environment,” Stice said.

“College is different from high school. It presents new


Without stress management, students may begin to see signs of

chronic stress. Common problems associated with stress include

headaches and chronic muscle tension.

“Everybody has stress and we all experience stress in different

ways, psychologically and physiologically, and in our program you

can learn to reduce stress,” Stice said. “We address both areas –

mental and physiological aspects of stress.”

Physical symptoms of stress include:

o Sweating

o Difficulty breathing

o Rapid heartbeat

o Stomach Problems

o Weakness

o Fatigue

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

o Anxiety

o Worry

o Depression

o Irritability

Thomas believes students can become stressed because of the

overwhelming activities in their daily lives.

Sottnik relaxes by working through stress or getting away from


“Last weekend I went to Estes Park, it was pretty cool,” Sottnik


The SMP teaches re-focusing techniques and allows students to

become aware of their worries and relax. Stice said breathing is

one of the most important relaxation techniques the SMP


“It’s something if you can learn how to control your breathing

you can influence your body’s physiological reaction to stress,” he


Some of the other stress relief techniques the SMP teaches

include visual imagery, short relaxation techniques and positive

coping strategies.

According to the SMP’s Web site, “Relaxation training is a

skills-building approach to stress management, teaching methods to

develop self-awareness and the ability to recognize causes and

effects of stress.”

Hallenbeck uses his own coping strategy with stress.

“I just try to have time to myself by either watching TV or

taking a night off and relaxing,” he said.

The SMP offers students some quick tips for stress on its Web


* Get organized and learn to plan

* Recognize and accept limits

* Learn to play and laugh

* Change your thinking

* Learn a method of relaxation

* Remind yourself that other people or situations cannot make

you “stressed”

The SMP is offered to students at no charge.

Students must make an appointment with the SMP coordinator to

begin using it. During the first meeting, students fill out basic

forms and information regarding the general concept of stress.

To make a stress management appointment, call the counseling

center at 491-6053.

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