University of Florida | GatorWell Health Promotion Services - Health Topic

Stress


University of Florida students consistently list stress as a top health concern. Review the information below to learn how to manage your stress and improve your academic success.

Stress in College

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. When your brain perceives a stressor, your body releases a burst of hormones to fuel your fight-or-flight response. When the stress is gone, your body returns to normal. Unfortunately, the non-stop stress of life as a UF student means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.  This can lead to negative physical, psychological, social, and academic impacts over time. That's why stress management is so important!

In a recent GatorWell survey, 24.6% of UF students reported that stress affects their academic performance.  In addition, while not all students feel that stress affects their academic performance negatively, stress-related behaviors and conditions, such as anxiety (20.5%), cold/flu/sore throat (19.1%), and sleep difficulties (12.6%) are cited by UF students as factors that impede academic performance.

GatorWell’s Stress Management Program Offers Students

Chomp the Stress

  • Taking steps to address your stress constructively is a positive and effective way to help ensure your happiness, productivity, and well-being. You can make an appointment at GatorWell to work with a Wellness Coach to identify your stressors, learn new strategies for stress management, and create a plan to manage your stress.  
  • Take a stress assessment to better understand your stress. This website will give you proven tips and tools to start managing stress more effectively.

Strategies for Managing Stress

Relax & Unwind:

  • Make time to do things that you enjoy.
  • Listen to relaxing music. Music has a powerful effect on mood. Experiment with nature sounds, soft jazz, or more energizing tunes with a hot beat to combat your stress.
  • Try this quick 60-second breathing exercise for relaxation: As you inhale, count very slowly up to four; as you exhale, count slowly back down to one. Meaning, as you inhale, you say to yourself slowly, "one, two, three, four," as you exhale, you say to yourself slowly, "four, three, two, one." Do this several times.
  • Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing. Put your hand on your abdomen, just below your navel. Take a deep breath, bringing the air in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should feel your stomach rising about an inch as you breathe in, and falling about an inch as you breathe out. It is easiest to do when you are lying flat on your back.
  • Enjoy a brief visualization exercise where you can relax at the beach.
  • Check out the AWESOME Calm Website for more relaxation exercises.

Get Organized and Manage Your Time Wisely: 

  • College students have a lot on their plates and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with everything.  Organizing your living space, academic responsibilities, and time can help alleviate some of this stress.  If you study at home, try setting aside a place in your living space for school work.  Keep this space clean and organized so you know where things are.  To help manage your time, try writing your schedule down in a planner. Consider making an appointment for Wellness Coaching. For more information visit our Time Management page.

Physical Activity: 

  • Try fitting some type of physical activity into your schedule every day.  Exercise helps your muscles release tension, burns off stress hormones, and releases endorphins (feel-good hormones).  If you are having trouble finding time to go to the gym multiple times a week, try incorporating simple things such as going for a walk between classes or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at your dorm. Take advantage of the range of opportunities offered by RecSports.

Eating Healthy:

  • Food provides the energy to help our bodies and minds function.  Incorporating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals will help provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly and deal with the physical wear and tear from stress.  For more information visit our Healthy Eating page.

Sleep:

  • It is important to give your body and mind time to rest and recharge from life’s daily stress.  Sleep helps to consolidate memory and learning, increases your ability to process new information, and boosts mood and energy levels.  We need 7-10 hours of sleep each night to perform at our optimal levels. Visit our Sleep page for tips on getting better sleep.

Be Positive:

  • Positive self-talk and optimism can be powerful tools when dealing with stressful situations.  For every negative thought try to counter it with a positive one. Try keeping a gratitude journal to help you notice and appreciate positive things in your life.

Campus Resources

Online Resources and Interactive Tools

  • American Psychological Association: The APA’s website provides news, articles, and resources related to stress.
  • Stress Recess: an interactive and experiential website instructing on various ways of reducing stress, as well as preparing for healthier ways of approaching the school/life balance from the University of Texas
  • Mental Health America Live Your Life Well: this website is designed to help you cope better with stress and create more of the life you want.
  • Guided Meditations: Sound Cloud’s website offers a variety of short audio tracks for guided meditation.
  • The Calm: This website is a great resource for practicing meditation and guided visualization. 
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