Stress is the state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. For many students, college can be a stressful time. There are a variety of reasons for increased stress.  For example, you may experience heavy course loads; changing relationships; unfamiliar physical environments; or new subjects and professors each term.

Stress differs from person to person. The signs of stress can be physical; they can also be emotional or behavioral. Physical signs of stress can vary, including “knots,” “butterflies,” or pain in your stomach; a rapid, pounding heart beat; cold, clammy hands; headache, hyperventilation; tightness in your neck or shoulders; tightness in the chest; lower back pain; and a tendency toward illness such as colds or flu (Burka, 1983). Emotional or behavioral signs of stress include irritability; fatigue and exhaustion; trouble concentrating; mood swings; increased alcohol or drug use; changes in sleep, appetite, or sexual interest; inability to relax; inability to enjoy the things that once brought you pleasure; apathy or lethargy; and forgetfulness (Burka, 1983). Knowing yourself well enough to identify your own signs of stress is vital as you work to manage stress.

Not sure how you're feeling? Take this quiz to find out. And know this: there are many resources available to help students cope with stress. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers counseling and psychological therapy along with the Mind Spa, a meditation and relaxation room that serves as a space to sooth the mind, body, and spirit. Student Health Services (SHS) offers acupuncture, massage therapy, Beaver Strides (a motivational pedometer program), health coaching, and tobacco cessation services. Using these resources can help you find healthy and effective ways to manage the stress you feel here at OSU.

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