Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress

Stressful Scenarios

Don’t panic. If something unexpected comes up, look at your options and make a rational decision. Look at these scenarios and think about what you would do.

Scenario Some Options
Your friend up the hall is very sick and needs to go to the emergency room. You have an important test tomorrow in biology; it you take her to the ER, you’ll be up all night and won’t be able to perform well–what do you do?

Remember, your decision needs to be based on what you know about the professor and his/her policies on test taking; what you know about yourself and how well you know the information being tested and how needed your services are.

  • Take her to the hospital and then do the best you can.
  • Take her to the hospital and then talk to your professor about rescheduling the test.
  • See if someone else can take her to the hospital (other friends, RA, etc.) and help her out tomorrow after the test.
  • Take her to the hospital and take your books with you so you can study in the waiting room.
You are sick and don’t feel well (cramps, migraines, flu, etc.) and have an important test or paper to hand in tomorrow. You don’t feel up to taking the test/finishing your paper because you don’t think you’ll be able to concentrate. What do you do?
    • Contact your professor immediately by phone or e-mail.
    • If you are seriously ill, call DOSO.
    • Call your advisor for advice.


You have a paper due the next day and have been working on it since it was assigned. You have your own computer and have been typing away when suddenly it crashes. Or when you go to print your printer breaks down. What do you do?

*Don’t assume you can take the test late or hand the paper in late.

  • Start typing the handwritten copy out and if you don’t finish it by class time, show the hand written copy to the professor and explain the situation.
  • Take the disk to the computer lab and printit out there.
  • Call your professor and ask for an extension, if you can’t get to class early and talk with the professor.
  • Check the syllabus for your professor’s policy on late papers and sick policy.


Signs of Stress and Medical Concerns

Stress doesn’t just occur in the academic realm. Parents, friends, relationships and jobs are just some other examples of sources of stress. Understand where the stress is coming from and who or what is causing the stressor. Also, understand the stress has many different levels and that it can occur on a daily basis. Scenarios: roommate problems, friends, job, parents, etc.

Learn to recognize the stress signals and then try to cope with the stress you are encountering. If stress is not controlled it can lead to serious health problems.

Stress can lead to or worsen symptoms of Physical Ailments (due to the decreasing number of T-lymphocytes which decreases the effectiveness of the immune system):

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke/Muscle Tension: (Backache, Neck/Shoulder, tense jaw, etc.)
  • Ulcers
  • Tension Headaches
  • Cancer
  • Asthma Attacks
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Other Signals

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Nervousness
  • Impatientness
  • Lashing out and immediately feeling sorry for it.

Stress Busters!

  • Take a warm bath.
  • Count backwards from 100
  • Take a breathe- 4 or 5 deep, cleansing breaths.
  • Read an engrossing novel.
  • Take a walk.
  • Meditate for 15 minutes.
  • Do gentle, static stretches for 15 minutes.
  • Close your eyes and daydream.
  • Call a friend.
  • Sit down, take the phone off the hook, close the door … relax!
  • Go see a movie.
  • Turn on your favorite record or tape.
  • Zone out ? watch a silly sitcom!
  • Work it out ? take and exercise class.
  • Put it in writing – write a nasty letter – don’t mail it!
  • Take a stress management class.
  • Find a hobby you enjoy.
  • Play with a pet ? unconditional love!
  • Rehearse how you’ll handle a stressful situation before it happens.
  • Keep your sense of humor ? laughter is the best medicine.

Nine Ways to Say No

If saying no is hard for you as it is for most people, here are a few ways to say no that might help you in the future:

  1. Perfectly Valid NO. “I’ve been out three nights this week. I’m staying home and watching television with the kids.” Say it like you mean it.
  2. No-After-Saying-Yes NO. “I’ve made a mistake. I shouldn’t have committed myself. I’m sorry, I’ll have to back out.” Hang up the phone and give a huge sigh of relief.
  3. Five-Star NO. (This is my favorite: There’s no comeback for it.) “I’ll have to pass it up.”
  4. No-Right-Now NO. “I’ve done it in the past and I’ll do it in the future, but I can’t do it now.”
  5. Polite NO. “I’m sorry, but my schedule doesn’t permit me to take on any more obligations this (pick one) week / month / year / decade.”
  6. No-Way NO. This one is for a teenage son who wants you to call your friends for a ride so he can have the car. Look directly in his eyes, smile, enunciate clearly. Say NO.
  7. Diplomatic NO. “It was kind of you to think of me. I’m flattered you asked. I’m sorry I won’t be able to do it.”
  8. Cowardly NO. Backed into a corner? Feeling low on energy or courage or both? Feeling somewhat desperate? Use this one: “My husband / mother / child doesn’t want me to do that.”
  9. Absolute NO. “I cannot do this. I don’t have the desire, the time, the interest, or the energy. NO, absolutely not. Never.” Save this one for special occasions.