Pasadena City College, Home of the PCC Lancers

Reducing Stress

Stress Management

What is stress?

Stress is a reaction to having too many pressures in your life.  A little stress is good--it is motivating.  But too much stress is bad--it is exhausting and upsetting.

Example:

  • No stress at all: Imagine your are in a race, but no one is watching you; no one else is racing against you, and no one is timing you.  Will you be motivated to do your best and enjoy yourself?
  • A little stress: Imagine you are in a race with fellow students and the stands are filled with your friends and family members.  If you win the race, you will recieve a prize and your loved-ones will be proud of you.  In these circumstances, will you be motivated to do your best and enjoy the experience?
  • Too much stress: Imagine you are in a race competing against Olympic athletes and the whole world is watching you.  If you win the race, beyond getting a prize, you will also have fame and fortune.  If you lose, however, your failure will be seen on television worldwide and your chances of competing in the future will be ruined.  In these circumstances, will you be able to try your best and enjoy yourself?
A certain amount of pressure to succeed is helpful; however, too much pressure can make it impossible to do our best. 

When you have too much stress, you feel overwhelmed and may find it difficult to accomplish your goals. Stress affects more than just your mood.  Here are some of the many signs of stress:

Emotions Thoughts Actions Body
Anxiety Forgetfulness Snapping at others Problems sleeping
Fear Confusion Crying/yelling Problems eating
Anger Distraction Using drugs/drinking Tense muscles
Depression Fear of failure Procrastinating Headaches
Mood swings Self-criticism Lower grades Problems breathing

Adapted from: http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/stress/stress.html

What causes stress?

Stress can be caused by both good things and bad things.  Usually, stress is caused by simply having TOO MANY things going on in your life.  It is always important to be aware of the areas in your life that are making demands on your energy and time, even if these areas are essentially positive.

Example:

  • Good things causing stress: Imagine you got a new job, just got married, and moved into a new home.  These are all good things, but they also require a lot of time and energy from you.  You will have to learn how to succeed in your new job, impress your boss, make new friends, move all your belongings, unpack them, decorate your new home, adjust to being married, and spend time with your new spouse!
  • Bad things causing stress: Imagine you just got fired from your job, your rent increased, you failed a test in one of your classes, and your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you.  You have to deal with finding a new job, making enough money to pay for your increased rent, studying extra hard to do better in your classes, and dealing with the pain of losing your significant other.

Regardless of the type of stress, it is important to know how to balance your responsiblities to others with the responsibility you have to yourself...to be healthy, properly rested, and mentally equipped to deal with day-to-day challenges.

Learn more about how to cope with stress.