Clammy palms. Racing heart. Upset stomach.
These might sound like medication side effects, but they can also be signs of stress. Does managing stress have you stumped? San Jacinto College licensed professional counselors Gladys Arvizu and Robert Murray share how you can tackle the stressful situations you face in college and beyond.
Arvizu, who has worked in both a community agency and private practice, has spent the last 12 of her 15 years in higher education at San Jac. Murray joined the College this May with a background in crisis work, community health, and K-12 counseling.
Q: Is stress always bad?
Arvizu: No, good stress motivates us. Stress is part of excitement in general like a new job, first date, upcoming project, riding a roller coaster. Bad stress comes from something negative like strain in a relationship, a chronic illness, or losing a job or loved one. You feel anxious or overwhelmed and stop doing daily activities.
Murray: Good stress is our internal notion we need to get something done, that "spidey-sense" that lets us know something is going to happen. It motivates us to not procrastinate. But there's also overpowering stress where you don't get anything done.
Q: What do many college students stress about? Is feeling overwhelmed normal?
Arvizu: Finances, time management, an increase in responsibilities, juggling academic and personal demands. It's normal to feel overwhelmed. It all depends on how you approach the situation and manage your emotions. Knowing how to cope is key.
Murray: Sometimes it's lack of direction — meeting your basic needs and managing others' expectations. What am I going to do at college? What will I study? It's part of life to feel overwhelmed, especially in college. You have family, work ... all these priorities. How do I take care of all of them?
Q: Can I change how I respond to stressful situations?
Arvizu: Things happen all around us that we can't control. But we can control our thoughts and actions — how we react. That's where I encourage you to talk to a mental health counselor about your situation and learn healthy coping skills.
Murray: Speak to a mental health counselor who is not judgmental and can guide you through the stressful situation. Sometimes you need to take a break from whatever is stressing you out. Stop and walk away. Then you can come back with a fresh mindset.
Q: When should I get help?
Arvizu: Your stress impacts your daily life, and everything is overwhelming. If you're a San Jac student, mental health counselors are available here to assist with personal counseling. You can meet with a counselor anytime you're experiencing a personal challenge and need someone to talk to.
Murray: There's a lack of sleep. Your eating habits have changed. You're drinking more or always feeling anxious, pressured. It really depends on you as an individual. When you're too stressed, you won't function as you once did. Come to student support services or schedule an appointment on the College website. We will listen in a non-judgmental way and help you problem-solve.
Q: I feel stressed right now. What can I do?
Arvizu: Take deep breaths. It's a simple technique that's good for managing emotions. Try grounding exercises — five minutes of mindfulness in a comfortable position. Use your senses to observe what's around you. Do you hear certain sounds? What do you see? This keeps you in the moment and relaxes you. Try positive self-talk: "I'm capable and strong. I can learn from this situation and grow as a person."
Murray: Sometimes our bodies are telling us we need self-care. Get together with a friend, go out to dinner, step away. When you get back to the task, make a plan and figure out how you're going to do it one step at a time.
Stressed? There's help.
As a San Jac student, you have access to short-term counseling with one of the College's licensed counselors. We can also refer you to outside agencies for community resources: