Overcome with Stress?

What is stress?

Feeling stressed is normal - we need this response in order for the body to react appropriately when threatened or when our everyday balance is disrupted. Stress helps motivate us and even helps protect us. However, feeling too much stress is not healthy. If you start feeling stressed out on a regular basis, this could lead to greater health problems, and could negatively interfere with your relationships and everyday life. More than half of Georgetown undergraduates reported (National College Health Assessment 2012) feeling higher than average levels of stress.

Common causes of stress:

  • Common external causes of stress include: major life changes, work, relationship difficulties, financial problems, being too busy, and family
  • Common internal causes of stress include: inability to accept uncertainty, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, and lack of assertiveness
Signs and symptoms

Here are some possible signs that indicate your stress may be a problem:

  • Cognitive symptoms include: memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, seeing only the negative, anxious or racing thoughts, and constant worrying
  • Emotional symptoms include: moodiness, irritability or short temper, agitation, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and isolation, and depression or general unhappiness
  • Physical symptoms include: aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, and frequent colds
  • Behavioral symptoms include: eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself from others, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, using alcohol/cigarettes/drugs to relax, and nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
TAKE ACTION
Prevention

Some ways to avoid stress are to:

  • Take good care of yourself--try to balance your diet and start a regular exercise routine
  • Get plenty of rest--aim for 8 hours of sleep each night, maintain a regular sleep schedule, and avoid too much caffeine
  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Explore new ways of thinking or doing things, e.g. Is what you are stressed about within your control? What are some concrete ways that you can break up the tasks or problems in front of you so they are more manageable? Take time to prioritize your goals and focus on achieving the most important ones
  • Talk to friends or someone you trust
  • Ask for help. Call the Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) to schedule an appointment to talk with a professional. Or, stop by the Academic Resource Center or Career Center for a workshop on time management skills
Treatment

During times of stress, the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself. Make sure you eat well, avoid harmful substances, limit caffeine and sugar intake, exercise, and plan personal time for yourself every day.

  • Other suggestions include:
  • Find out what is causing stress in your life (see list above for common stressors) and try coming up with ways to avoid this stressor
  • Exercise
  • Write in a journal
  • Let your feelings out by talking, laughing, or crying
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Learn ways to relax
  • Focus on the present
  • Take advantage of Georgetown’s many on-campus resources, listed below
UNIVERSITY RESOURCES

There are many resources on campus to assist you when you are stressed:

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS)
One Darnall Hall
(202) 687-6985

Academic Resource Center
Leavey Center 335
(202) 687-8354

Campus Ministry
Healy 113
(202) 687-4300

Dr. Patrick Kilcarr
Director, Center for Personal Development
1437 37th St NW, Poulton Hall Suite 101
(202) 687-8944
kilcarrp@georgetown.edu

Karen Pierce
Director, Center for Wellness Promotion (Law Center)
167 McDonough Hall
(202) 662-9835
piercekl@law.georgetown.edu

Online Interactive Stress Management Tools

Georgetown offers free mental health online screening
Stress Assess: Provides a questionnaire to assess the stressors in your life
Guided Meditation can help you cope

References:
WebMD
Mayo Clinic
2012 National College Health Assessment Survey
HelpGuide.org Stress Symptoms, Signs and Causes