Loading

Emotional Wellness & Coping Skills Porterville college

Stay Safe Campaign

Successful Students Practice Emotional Wellness

Wellness is more than just avoiding disease. Wellness involves feeling good in every respect, in mind and spirit as well as in body. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health—and maybe more so.

If you’re unhappy much of the time, you will not do as well as in college—or life—as you can if you’re happy. You will feel more stress, and your health will suffer.

Still, most of us are neither happy nor unhappy all the time. Life is constantly changing, and our emotions change with it. But sometimes we experience more negative emotions than normally, and our emotional health may suffer. Emotional balance is an essential element of wellness—and for succeeding in college.

Emotions Can Be Problematic

When is an emotion problematic? Is it bad to feel anxious about a big test coming up or to feel sad after breaking up a romantic relationship?

College students face so many demands and stressful situations that many naturally report often feeling anxious, depressed, or lonely. These emotions become problematic only when they persist and begin to affect your life in negative ways.

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common emotions college students experience, often as a result of the demands of college, work, and family and friends. It’s difficult to juggle everything, and you may end up feeling not in control, stressed, and anxious.

Some anxiety is often a good thing if it leads to studying for a test, focusing on a problem that needs to be resolved, better management your time and money, and so on. But if anxiety disrupts your focus and makes you freeze up rather than take action, then it may become problematic.

5 Types of Serious Anxiety

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions), repetitive behaviors (compulsions), or both.
  3. Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms.
  4. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.
  5. Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder) is a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions.

These five types of anxiety go beyond the normal anxiety everyone feels at some times. If you feel your anxiety is like any of these, see your health-care provider. Effective treatments are available to help you regain control.

PC is here for you

Loneliness

Loneliness is a normal feeling that most people experience at some time. College students away from home for the first time are likely to feel lonely at first. Older students may also feel lonely if they no longer see their old friends.

If you are feeling lonely, there are many things you can do to meet others and feel connected. Don’t sit alone in your room bemoaning the absence of friends. That will only cause more stress and emotional distress. You will likely start making new friends through going to classes, working, studying, and living in the community. But you can jump-start that process by taking active steps such as these:

Taking Active Steps

  • Realize you don’t have to be physically with friends in order to stay connected. Many students use social Web sites to stay connected with friends at other colleges or in other locations. Telephone calls, instant messaging, and e-mail work for many.
  • Understand that you’re not alone in feeling lonely. Many others like you are just waiting for the opportunity to connect, and you will meet them and form new friendships fast once you start reaching out.
  • Become involved in campus opportunities to meet others. Every college has a wide range of clubs for students with different interests. If you’re not the “joiner” type, look for individuals in your classes with whom you think you may have something in common and ask them if they’d like to study for a test together or work together on a class project.
  • Remember that loneliness is a temporary thing—it’s only a matter of time until you make new friends. If your loneliness persists and you seem unable to make friends, then it’s a good idea to talk with one of the college counsellors. They can help.

Depression

Depression, like anxiety and loneliness, is commonly experienced by college students. It may be a mild sadness resulting from specific circumstances or be intense feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Many people feel depressed from time to time because of common situations:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by pressures to study, work, and meet other obligations
  • Not having enough time (or money) to do the things you want to do
  • Experiencing problems in a relationship, friendship, or work situation
  • Feeling overweight, unhealthy, or not in control of oneself
  • Feeling that your new life as a student lacks some of the positive dimensions of your former life
  • Not having enough excitement in your life

Common Signs of Depression

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

If you have feelings like this that last for weeks at a time and affect your daily life, your depression is more severe than “normal,” temporary depression. It’s time to see your health-care provider and get treatment as you would for any other illness.

Stress

We all live with occasional stress. Since college students often feel even more stress than most people, it’s important to understand it and learn ways to deal with it so that it doesn’t disrupt your life.

Stress is a natural response of the body and mind to a demand or challenge. The thing that causes stress, called a stressor, captures our attention and causes a physical and emotional reaction.

What Causes Stress

Not all stressors are bad things. Exciting, positive things also cause a type of stress, called eustress. Falling in love, getting an unexpected sum of money, acing an exam you’d worried about—all of these are positive things that affect the body and mind in ways similar to negative stress:

You can’t help thinking about it, you may lose your appetite and lie awake at night, and your routine life may be momentarily disrupted. But the kind of stress that causes most trouble results from negative stressors.

Life events that usually cause significant stress include the following:

  • Serious illness or injury
  • Serious illness, injury, or death of a family member or loved one
  • Losing a job or sudden financial catastrophe
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Divorce or ending a long-term relationship (including parents’ divorce)
  • Being arrested or convicted of a crime
  • Being put on academic probation or suspended

Life events like these usually cause a lot of stress that may begin suddenly and disrupt one’s life in many ways. Fortunately, these stressors do not occur every day and eventually end—though they can be very severe and disruptive when experienced. Some major life stresses, such as having a parent or family member with a serious illness, can last a long time and may require professional help to cope with them.

Don't Stress Me Out!

Coping with Stress

Think about your list of stressors. For each, consider whether it is external (like bad job hours or not having enough money) or internal, originating in your attitudes and thoughts.

External Stressors

You may be able to eliminate many external stressors. Talk to your boss about changing your work hours. If you have money problems, work on a budget you can live with, look for a new job, or reduce your expenses by finding a cheaper apartment,

Internal Stressors

What about other external stressors? Taking so many classes that you don’t have the time to study for all of them? Keep working on your time management skills. Schedule your days carefully and stick to the schedule. Take fewer classes next term if necessary.

Internal stressors, however, are often not easily resolved. We can’t make all stressors go away, but we can learn how to cope so that we don’t feel so stressed out most of the time.

Reducing Stress

Many of the healthy habits that contribute to our wellness and happiness also reduce stress and minimize its effects.

Get Some Exercise

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is a great way to help reduce stress. Exercise increases the production of certain hormones, which leads to a better mood and helps counter depression and anxiety.

Exercise helps you feel more energetic and focused so that you are more productive in your work and studies and thus less likely to feel stressed.

Get More Sleep

When sleep deprived, you feel more stress and are less able to concentrate on your work or studies. Many people drink more coffee or other caffeinated beverages when feeling sleepy, and caffeine contributes further to stress-related emotions such as anxiety and nervousness.

Manage Your Money

Worrying about money is one of the leading causes of stress.

You know the saying about the optimist who sees the glass as half full and the pessimist who sees the same glass as half empty. Guess which one feels more stress? Much of the stress you feel may be rooted in your attitudes toward school, your work—your whole life. If you don’t feel good about these things, how do you change?

Relaxation Techniques

Different relaxation techniques can be used to help minimize stress.

  • Deep breathing. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs completely. Exhale slowly and smoothly through your mouth. Concentrate on your breathing and feel your chest expanding and relaxing. After five to ten minutes, you will feel more relaxed and focused.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. With this technique, you slowly tense and then relax the body’s major muscle groups. The sensations and mental concentration produce a calming state.
  • Meditation. Taking many forms, meditation may involve focusing on your breathing, a specific visual image, or a certain thought, while clearing the mind of negative energy. Many podcasts are available to help you find a form of meditation that works best for you.
  • Yoga or tai chi. Yoga, tai chi, and other exercises that focus on body position and slow, gradual movements are popular techniques for relaxation and stress reduction. You can learn these techniques through a class, online or from a DVD.
  • Music and relaxation CDs and MP3s. Many different relaxation techniques have been developed for audio training. Simply play the recording and relax as you are guided through the techniques.
"I hear you"

Get Counseling

If stress is seriously disrupting your studies or your life regardless of what you do to try to reduce it, you may need help. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help, and PC counsellors and health professionals are there to help.

Helpful
Stay Safe Campaign

Tips for Success: Stress

  • Pay attention to, rather than ignore, things that cause you stress and change what you can.
  • Accept what you can’t change and resolve to make new habits that will help you cope.
  • Get regular exercise and enough sleep.
  • Evaluate your priorities, work on managing your time, and schedule restful activities in your daily life. Students who feel in control of their lives report feeling much less stress than those who feel that circumstances control them.
  • Slow down and focus on one thing at a time—don’t check for e-mail or text messages every few minutes! Know when to say no to distractions.
  • Break old habits involving caffeine, alcohol, and other substances.
  • Remember your long-range goals and don’t obsess over short-term difficulties.
  • Make time to enjoy being with friends.
  • Explore new activities and hobbies that you enjoy.
  • Find a relaxation technique that works for you and practice regularly.
  • Get help if you’re having a hard time coping with emotional stress.

Articles & Resources

Created By
Todd Dearmore
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by Helena Lopes - "Saturday. Summer. Beautiful sunny day, so my friends and I decided to make a picnic and watch the sundown. Pretty fun and relaxed day." • Aarón Blanco Tejedor - "When we visited Utö, the most outer island of this beautiful archipelago in the place we call Finland, I allowed myself to be guided by the incredible energy of Inca, the daughter of the family we were visiting there. She took me to a series of abandoned bunkers from the times this island was a military strategic point and there I found this graffiti that represent very well the feeling of all that has to do with military, war, conflict and drama. With love from Korpo." • Priscilla Du Preez - "untitled image" • Anh Nguyen - "Model: @queanh.ng"