Strategies, resources help you defeat stress

Kimberly Steele
792. That’s how many Troy students were seen last year by the Student Counseling Center.
That number may seem big, but a University of Pittsburgh psychologist, Robert Gallagher, has noted that the ages of 18 to 25 are the prime time for serious mental conditions to emerge.
Fran Scheel, a counselor and coordinator at the Student Counseling Center for 17 years, understands this.
“Some of the common stressors for incoming students are adjusting to a new environment, learning to balance the social and academic demands of the college environment, and even for some this is the first time they’re away from their family and friends,” Scheel said.
She suggests that new students get involved in campus activities.
“They can meet and develop friendships to create a new support system,” she said.
Other sources of stress can be classes.
“School in general is stressful for me,” said Amanda Burgess, a student in the interpreter training program from Panama City who was a sophomore in the spring. “I don’t test well and have test anxiety.”
Kayle Weeks, a graphic design major from Troy who was a junior in the spring, works while also going to school.
“Juggling between work and school — working 40-plus hours a week and taking a full load of classes — is extremely hard to find time for studying and self-care,” Weeks said.
The Student Counseling Center has some tips that can help with dealing with stress, called “The Four A’s”:
n Avoid the stressor. You can sidestep some sources of stress, such as piling too much onto your to-do list by taking on unneeded tasks, and dealing with people and topics that stress you out more than help you.
“When I’ve taken too much on and become burnt out, sometimes I get depressed and my anxiety worsens,” said Taylor Bowser, a graphic design major from Dothan and a senior in the spring.
n Alter the stressor if you cannot avoid it. Try expressing your feelings or being more assertive — or maybe more willing to compromise. Look for the best choice for yourself. “Take time to take care of yourself,” Weeks said.
n Adapt to the stressor. Change the way you view it. Take a step back, and think on the big picture.
“My tips: don’t let stress overwhelm you,” Burgess said. “The stress will eventually pass, and you have to realize that.”
n Accept the stressor. Sometimes stress is just going to be there. It is best to look at the brighter side or to share your feelings.
“Just talking things out with people who understand me helps me cope with stress,” Burgess said.
These tips aren’t necessarily meant to be used together, so much as used in turn depending on the source of the stress.
“Schedule time to take care of yourself apart from academic and social expectations,” Bowser said. “Whether your thing is exercising or playing video games, schedule that time, and then immerse yourself for an hour or two every day. Your brain will appreciate the break.”
Scheel said it is important that students know that they don’t have to suffer through a mental health issue by themselves.
“The Student Counseling Center is here to help,” Scheel said. “It is a free service, and it’s confidential.”
If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue, contact the Student Counseling Center at (334) 670-3700 or email to schedule an appointment.
The website,, provides links for more stress management suggestions.
The Student Counseling Center also hosts the S.A.V.E. Project for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

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