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Stress Management and Coping Karlene Cunningham Outreach Coordinator Auburn University Psychological Services Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Stress Management and Coping Karlene Cunningham Outreach Coordinator Auburn University Psychological Services Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Stress Management and Coping Karlene Cunningham Outreach Coordinator Auburn University Psychological Services Center

2 Overview What is Stress? Signs and Symptoms of Stress Coping with Stress Rethink Your Stressors Other Helpful Tips When You Cant Cope Suggested Books

3 What is Stress? Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to the environment.

4 What is Stress? When stress is seen as a stimulus its a stressor Stressors can be internal Lifestyle Personality characteristics Or External Environmental Social Familial Occupational

5 Stressors What are some current examples of stressors in the graduate school environment? Thesis/Dissertation Financial Demands Deadlines Productivity Demands Social Demands Family Demands

6 What is Stress? When stress is viewed as a response its considered distress Distress can manifest itself as Behavioral signs Physiological signs Affective (feeling) signs Cognitive (Thinking) signs

7 Signs and Symptoms of Stress Physiological signs Gut responders (nausea, ulcers, GI problems) Respiratory responders (shortness of breath, wheezing) Muscular responders (neck aches, chest pains) Vascular Responders (Tension headaches) Behavioral signs Heightened arousability (startle response) Irritability Restlessness Disorganization Change in sleeping pattern Change in eating Substance use/abuse

8 Signs and Symptoms Affective Signs Irritability Depression Anxiety Hypervigilance Cognitive Catastrophising Poor Concentration Disorganization

9 Signs and Symptoms Your health both influences and is effected by your level of distress Stress impacts your immune system Catching the cold during finals Hypertension, cancer, heart disease


11 What is Coping? Process of managing the discrepancy between the demands of the situation and the available resources. Ongoing process of appraisal and reappraisal (not static) Can alter the stress problem OR regulate the emotional response.

12 How do you Cope? What are some ways you currently cope with stress? Typical (and sometimes harmful) strategies include Procrastination Anger/irritability Depressive behavior Cigarette, alcohol or substance use

13 Better Coping Strategies Relaxing (not escaping) Improving eating habits Sleep Exercise Rethink your stressors

14 Relaxation Protecting time for yourself is key to managing stress Short relaxation breaks help to relieve built up tension Robot/Ragdoll Deep breathing Meditation

15 Improving Eating Habits Eating better will help your body function better overall Drinking more water Consuming less caffeine (sorry) Vitamins

16 Sleep…. Get more SLEEP! When youre sleep deprived your body does not function at optimal levels. This can lead to clouded thought and feeling overwhelmed because you cant think straight.

17 Exercise It improves blood flow to your brain It also causes the release of chemicals called endorphins. These give you a feeling of happiness and positively affect your overall sense of well-being.

18 Rethink Your Stressors How you perceive a stressor greatly influences how much distress you feel. High levels of stress is usually associated with thoughts such as: I cant do this. There is not enough time. What is the perfect answer? It may be a mistake.

19 Rethink Your Stressors When evaluating a stressor you should: 1.Open up to all of the possibilities and visualize each one. 2.Banish vague fears. 3.Let go of the idea of a perfect answer. 4.Trust yourself and take action.


21 Other Helpful Tips Study & work effectively Have a personal work space Minimize distractions from others Set a mood for completing tasks Try to handle one thing at a time

22 Other Helpful Tips Money management Major source of stress Budget needs vs. wants Avoid impulse buying (retail therapy)

23 Other Helpful Tips Build strong interpersonal relationships Develop good relationship skills Conflict resolution Listening skills

24 When You Cant Cope Mental health professionals can help when you feel you cant cope. There are places on campus where you can seek help: AUPSC: 844-4889 Student Counseling Center: 844-5123 Crisis Hotline 821-8600

25 Suggested Books Groves, D., (2004). Stress Reduction for Busy People: Finding Peace in an Anxious World Covey, S. R., The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Davis, M., Eshelman, E.R. & McKay, M. (2008) The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (5 th edition)


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