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Stress is the way our bodies respond to any new, threatening, or exciting situation. It can be caused by anything that places an extra demand on us. This can be both good and bad. Helpful stress allows us to be productive and attain our goals. Harmful stress, such as what we all experience around midterms or finals, can be overwhelming.

Stress affects us in a holistic way. Symptoms of stress can be found in physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of our lives.

Common symptoms of stress include:

•  Headaches

•  Fatigue

•  Upset stomach

•  Muscle soreness and tension

•  Colds

•  Insomnia/Sleeplessness

•  Depression

•  Fear or anxiety

•  Anger

•  Lack of confidence

•  Lack of Humor

•  Loneliness or withdrawal

•  Aggressiveness

•  Inability to concentrate

•  Feeling apathetic or bored

•  Lacking Creativity

•  Difficulty making decisions

•  Lacking joy

•  Feeling hopeless, guilty, desperate, or empty

People find different things stressful and react to stress differently. To some people, stress describes the frantic pace of everyday life. To others, stress is what you feel during times of conflict, loss, or illness. Your stress response might help you catch yourself if you trip, or steer your car to avoid a crash. However, having a high level of stress today can be prolonged and may have damaging effects on your health.

Possible health effects of stress:

  • Sleep Problems
  • Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
  • Low concentration
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • A weakened immune system
  • Abandoned healthy habits
  • Increased digestive problems
  • Stress may also contribute to many health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, arthritis, menstrual disorders

It is very important to take care of yourself now to avoid negative effects of stress in the future. Steps can be taken to minimize immediate forms of stress and also to manage long-term stress.

Self-care tips to handle short-term stress:

  • Start your work early. Balance work and play. Budget your time.
  • Maintain healthy eating and sleep patterns.
  • Take breaks every hour--work for 50 minutes, take a break for 10.
  • Drink herbal tea (instead of coffee as caffeine can worsen stress symptoms).
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Modify your environment to manage your exposure to factors that cause stress.
  • Reward yourself for meeting short-term goals.

Tips to handle long-term stress:

  • Seek your own stress level.
  • Choose your own goals.
  • Develop a support system.
  • Think positive.
  • Make decisions.
  • Keep your expectations realistic.
  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Anticipate potentially stressful situations and prepare for them.
  • Live in the present.

Resource Links:

  • UND Counseling Center . ( )
  • The American Institute of Stress. ( )
  • MedlinePlus: Stress. ( )
  • Stress Busting: Stress test and information. ( )
  • Stress Advice and Support. ( )

UND Student Health Services
McCannel Hall, Room 100
Box 9038
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Tel: 701.777.4500