Stress & How to Effectively Manage It

By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

Stress, which is defined as a state of mental strain due to adverse or demanding
circumstances, is an important health topic that affects the daily lives of many people.
We all experience feelings of stress at some point in our lives, so it is crucial to learn
how to manage symptoms of stress before they become detrimental to our health and
well-being. At this point in the academic year, it is understandable that a lot of us are
beginning to feel high levels of stress or anxiety due to the workload that is beginning
to pile up as we approach the end of Spring semester. In addition to school and
academics, stress can also be brought on by a magnitude of other factors, such as
social relationships (family, friends, romantic partner, etc.), insufficient income, and
other day-to-day responsibilities that one must carry out. It is important to remember,
however, that there are a variety of activities, behaviors, and attitudes that can be
engaged in in order to help alleviate symptoms of stress before they become more
difficult to manage. Below I have listed some important facts, reminders and strategies
in order to help combat stress and bring a sense of peace during this demanding
period of time for many.

Stress may look different for each individual, but there are certain symptoms
associated with this state of health. Some physical symptoms of stress include
exhaustion or trouble sleeping, chest pain, high blood pressure, digestive problems,
and a weakened immune system. Emotional symptoms can include feelings of anxiety
or irritability, depression, panic attacks, and sadness. Stress levels may vary
depending on the severity of the circumstances one is experiencing, as well as one’s
ability to manage symptoms of stress.
Oftentimes, people engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to overcome
symptoms of stress, whether it be intentional or unintentional. Examples of this include
turning to substances such as alcohol or marijuana in order to suppress one’s feelings,
compulsive behavior (such as overspending), or overeating/developing an eating
disorder as a method of stress relief. Although in the moment it may feel as though you
are reducing your stress by engaging in behaviors such as these, it is very important to
remember their negative impacts on physical and emotional health. In fact, they may
ultimately worsen feelings of stress and further overwhelm your mind and your body.
There are many stress-relieving activities that can be practiced to help combat stress
symptoms and calm yourself physically and mentally during an overwhelming period of
time. Some of these activities include:

● Engaging in physical activity/exercise (this increases the amount of endorphins
in your body, boosting feelings of well-being!)
● Eating a healthy and sufficient diet – aim to incorporate fruits and vegetables into
your meals when you can
● Meditating – this is a great way to relax yourself and take your mind off of things
that are bringing you stress
● Socializing – surround yourself with uplifting people who will support you during
stressful times; social contact can be a great stress reliever and it helps to
distract yourself from worrying thoughts
● Getting enough sleep – this has a great impact on mood, levels of energy, and
ability to concentrate, all of which are very important factors in combating
stress, especially if it is related to academics
● Listening to music – this can help to relieve feelings of stress by reducing tension
in your muscles and decreasing stress hormones
● Seeking counseling/therapy – if you find yourself really struggling to cope with
stress that you are experiencing, and if other self-care methods are not proving
to be helpful, consider seeking a counselor or therapist; they can help you
identify the source(s) of stress in your life and provide different techniques or
therapeutic methods in order to bring about a sense of balance and stress-relief
within your life

UMass Lowell offers free counseling services in order to help students
who are struggling with issues such as stress. Visit this website in order
to learn more about the UML Counseling Center, and to book an

For those of you who find yourselves feeling stressed or overwhelmed, remember that
you are more than capable of overcoming these feelings. I hope you found this blog
post helpful, and that you learned some useful stress-relieving strategies that can be
implemented into your life to improve your overall health and well-being! 🙂