Managing Stress at College: Building Resiliency

Stress is a natural part of life, and college is no exception. Building resiliency to stress means finding healthy ways to de-stress, identifying resources and asking for help.

Some college stressors are universal: academic pressures, deadlines, finances, roommates and living situations, homesickness.  There are universal ways to manage stress as well:  exercising, engaging in a hobby and spending time with friends.  But what happens when stress is overwhelming?  How do we learn to manage it and bounce back?

Shortly after starting freshman year, “George” learned that a family member back home had passed away.  Already combating homesickness and managing a difficult course load, George could easily have been overwhelmed.  But using the resources available to him at Purdue and tackling each stressor independently helped George to not only manage this challenging time, but to thrive.

Some stressors are controllable and others not. Learning to identify what is in your control, identifying resources and asking for help will help alleviate stress.

While he couldn’t control the fact that he was far from home, George surrounded himself with friends and built strong relationships at school.  As he faced the grief of losing a loved one, he knew through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) help was available 24 hours a day.

To combat the stress of academics George met with his teachers and utilized the Academic Success Center (ASC). At the ASC, George was able to meet individually with an academic consultant and get study strategies that were tailored to his course load, strengths, and concerns. He also learned about other free resources available through the ASC, including the Peer Success Coaching program, skills workshops, online resources, and a searchable database of the academic support resources on campus.
He worked ahead in classes to avoid feeling the pressure of deadlines. 

Learning to manage stress in healthy, positive ways and utilizing available resources is key a student’s success.

According to Susan L. Prieto-Welch, director of CAPS, “Stress can involve feeling upset, anxious and distressed.  Remember that many times these feelings can be a part of growing and maturing--think “growing pains.” Reaching out for support and help, in many different places and in different ways, is a sign of flexibility and strength.” George’s ability to manage tough situations will serve him well. It gives him confidence to handle challenges and uncertainty in the future.  

Consider encouraging your child to use Purdue’s many resources, many of which are listed on the Purdue Mental Wellness Task Force page, if stress is ever an issue. If you need further help identifying resources, you are welcome to contact Parent & Family Connections.

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