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Stress Less

picture of meditation cushions and low table

What is Stress?

Stress is the body's response to any demand or change in the environment, and all animals have a stress response. Stressful events can be positive (such as a wedding) or negative (such as an exam), and the effects of stress can be beneficial or detrimental.

How to Make Stress Your Friend TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal

Assess your stress

You can learn to assess your stress level by paying attention to your body and behaviors. Stress can cause changes in:

  • Eating patterns
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Heart rate
  • Emotions (more irritable, more anxious)
  • Muscle tension
  • Digestion
  • Headaches
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Energy level
  • Motivation
  • Sex drive

Manage Stress

Some tips for healthy ways to take care of yourself when you are feeling under pressure:

  • Practice Mindfulness or other relaxation practice.
  • Find and use the "emergency stress stoppers" that work for you: take two deep breaths, count to ten, pet your dog or cat, squeeze a stress ball, etc.
  • Get a healthy amount of sleep.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to alleviate stress in the moment, but will not fix the problem, and will probably make it worse.
  • Talk about it. Share how you are feeling with a friend, family member, pastor, counselor or doctor.
  • Take a breather and give yourself a break.
  • Use positive self-talk.
  • Do something that's fun: go for a run, spend time outside, listen to music, etc.

Recognize when you need more help. If you continue to feel distressed by the amount of stress you feel, or you cannot function the way that you would like to, talk to a professional such as a counselor, social worker or psychologist.

UH Hilo Presentations

TED Talks and Videos related to Stress and Happiness

Campus Resources