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How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal Video Preview

"It is now time for us to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep without embarrassment or that unfortunate stigma of laziness." - Kelly McGonigal, How To Make Stress Your Friend, TED2019

Stress is a normal response to the demands and pressures we experience every day. Sometimes, it gives us that extra boost to power through the situation, and other times it feels crippling. The key is not ignoring or getting rid of what is stressing you out, but to recognize where it is coming from, acknowledge it, and work around it. Once you learn to manage, you will feel less overwhelmed by life's challenges and cope with stress in healthy ways.


Causes of Good Stress

Good stress, or "eustress", is short-term, motivating, and exciting. This kind of stress usually occurs when we feel the task at hand is within our capabilities.

  • Taking classes or learning a new hobby (basically, the entire college experience)
  • Getting a new job or a promotion
  • Starting a new relationship
  • Moving
  • Taking a vacation
  • Riding a rollercoaster
  • Trying a new food

Causes of Bad Stress

Bad stress, or distress, feels unpleasant and can lead to mental and even physical problems. It usually occurs when we feel the task is outside our capability and can last for a short or long period.

  • Being injured or sick
  • Injury, sickness, or death of a loved one
  • Financial problems (i.e., student loans, credit card debt, unemployment, etc.)
  • Separating from a committed relationship
  • Conflict with friends, family, or work colleagues
  • Issue with sleep



  1. Stress management means eliminating all stress from your life.
    • This is impossible because life is unpredictable, no matter how much you plan.
    • You could miss out create goals that require an unreasonable amount of work or may be impossible to reach.
  2. You will never feel stressed with the right attitude.
    • Some believe that none of the challenges they face could make an impact if they just had a better attitude. So when they fail to manage stress, they usually think they are not lazy and inadequate.
    • These individuals may continue to fail at recognizing and managing stress, leading to not feeling diligent and accomplished unless they are "stressed".
  3. The right techniques will make the stress go away.
    • Expecting stress management techniques to get rid of all your stress can lead you to believe the technique is not working or that you are doing it "wrong". You could become discouraged, give up on using the techniques, and feel more stressed than before.

REALITY: Nothing can completely eliminate stress from your life, different stress management techniques work for different people, and its all about BALANCE and PRACTICE.

If you can get yourself from a state of panic to a state of relaxation, then you are doing something right! Accepting and adjusting to what stresses you out will have more (long-term) success than believing these myths.

Chronic, or consistent, stress can be physical, emotional, or psychological. Look at the examples:

  • Being sick often (weak immune system)
  • Acute aches and pains
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Indigestion or stomach problems
  • Trouble having sex

The more often you experience these issues, the more likely you will have...

  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lowered motivation and self-esteem
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Nervous breakdowns and mental illness

Some Common Strategies:

  • Acknowledging that you are stressed
    • Recognize the signs
    • Take responsibility for your emotions and the situation
  • Begin distancing yourself from the source of stress
    • Maintain your emotional composure (not letting any distressing emotion get out of control)
  • Attempt to change the source of stress
    • Lower your expectations
    • Ask others to assist you
    • Engage in problem solving
    • Set realistic goals
    • Challenge any ineffective strategies (i.e., staying up late, pushing through assignments with caffeine/energy drinks, etc.)
  • Maintain your emotionally supportive relationships.
  • Talk to your doctor or health care provider
  • Regular exercise or relaxing activities

LOOK BELOW for "Stress Management Techniques for College Students"

Often, the unhealthy ways we cope with stress are unnoticeable. They start as forms of relaxation and can turn into negative forms of escapism. These coping strategies are avoiding the problem instead of confronting the cause of it.

Pay attention if you or anyone close to you is doing these things:

  • Watching endless hours of TV
  • Withdrawing from friends or partners
  • Jumping into a frenzied social life
  • Overeating or weight gain
  • Undereating or weight loss
  • Sleeping too much
  • Lashing out at others in emotionally or physically
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Taking up smoking or smoking more than usual
  • Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs that promise some form or relief (i.e., sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety pills, etc.)
  • Taking illegal or unsafe drugs


Stress Management Techniques for College Students

The 4 A's of Stress Relief

10 Ways to Reduce College Stress

17 Effective Stress Relievers


Ways to De-stress...

  • On Campus
    • Attend at a GroupX Class (i.e., core exercising, barbell pump, zumba, yoga, and more!)
    • Check out upcoming events each month on the WellU® Calendar
    • Meet with one our registered dietitians at Hilltopper Nutrition
    • Go on an ORAC Trip
    • Talk a walk around campus
    • Have a picnic on South Lawn (with friends!)
  • Off Campus
    • Visit Chaney’s Dairy Barn
    • Visit the animals at the local animal shelter
    • Walk the nature trail at Lost River Cave
    • Visit Spencer’s coffeehouse for your favorite coffee drink




Learn More Here At:

TED Talk, Rob Cooke - The Cost of Work Stress and How to Reduce It

Watch WellCast - Stress Management Strategies: Ways to Unwind

HealthTexas Medical Group - Stress 101: Understanding Stress and How to Manage It

Cleveland Clinic - Stress: Coping With Life's Stressors






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 Last Modified 4/19/22