Learning helpful methods for coping with stress and anxiety

By Abigail Barnard

Staff Writer

Students often face different stressful situations attending college, including getting registered,  being away from home, deciding on their degrees, and organizing their schedules.

The first thing students need to realize is that they aren’t alone.

Northeast Texas Community College, Psychology professor Dr. Skaar says, “Stress is natural. Your body is supposed to do it. Stress helps you adapt to the environment and so when our nervous system, particularly the sympathetic nervous system is what we call our fight or flight nervous system it reacts very immediately.”

Stress is a mental and physical condition that occurs when adapting to our environment, so a stressor is any condition or event that challenges a person. Stress is more likely to be more damaging when it is intense or repeated. 

Dr. Skaar says “Students feel like things are uncontrolled but time management gives the student control back.”

Dr. Skaar said that students need to learn what type of coping skills work for them. There are five main types of coping skills: problem-focused strategies, emotion-focused strategies, meaning-making, social support, and religious coping.

Dr. Skaar says, “Stresses that are more likely to be damaging when intense or repeated, like going to school every day. When they are unpredictable, a pop quiz is worse than a general quiz.”

NTCC student Hailee Pingitre said the stress can be somewhat overwhelming at times. “You’re just coming out of high school where you had your parents working and doing things for you,” she said. “Now you are on your own trying to balance school and life.”

Dr. Skaar said, being emotion-focused can help serve as a distraction. She encouraged students to find something they enjoy doing like watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music, or even dancing. She said it is also helpful to write in a journal or take a bubble bath. Skaar added that physical activities like walking, running, or spending time with a pet can also serve as an excellent way to relieve stress. Even something as simple as coloring can become an excellent coping skill. 

“Relaxing takes a lot of effort. We can’t just turn on the minds of others and tell them to stop stressing,” Skaar said. “By associating these fun things with fun rather than fear and stress. These are things we do in typical everyday life, we just need to find the one that works for us and our bodies.”

Stress is a natural thing our body goes through. It’s our flight or fight response, when we learn what works best for our body, we can take back control and release some of the stress.