Finding a healthy balance in a stress filled world

Mary Sullivan, Guest Columnist

Attending college is a monumental challenge that can bring along
chronic stress.
During the first seven weeks of classes, you may have experienced
the stress response, the rapid heart rate and breathing, often with a
sense of anger or fear and hyper alertness.
For example, when a car unexpectedly pulls out in front of you, you
may react with either fight, flight or freeze to avoid harm. This stress
response to sudden change is nature’s way of helping you stay alive.
However, chronic stress can occur when the alarm and crisis response
is constantly active.
College life is full of stressful situations, such as dealing with major
decisions, day to day tasks, parking, time management, balancing work
and school, confusion about classes and career paths, homesickness
and too much partying. This could result in low energy and mild
As you settle into the seventh week of Fall quarter, your reactions
should be steadying. This state is our goal at Student Health Services,
as helping maintain balance allows students to thrive.
According to Dr. Adam Burke, the director of the SFSU Holistic
Health Institute, “Darwin’s main point in the change filled day to
day world that we inhabit is our ability to learn. It is not about being
smartest, fastest, strongest. It is about being able to successfully adapt
to changes in the environment.”
• Take time to congratulate and celebrate your progress to week
• Check in with yourself frequently and strive to bring a positive
attitude to each day.
• Mental well-being is just as important as physically well-being.
Make use of the free psychological services in the Registration
and Student Services building.
• Talk with an instructor and ask about progress.
• Seek out the friendly tutorial centers on
• Develop social connections to support yourself and others.
Consider extending a smile to others around you. It will make
you feel better too!
• Look into clubs or outside activities to build connections for
learning and job opportunities.
• Avoid hiding your habits of over indulgence in food, alcohol.
The action of “swallowing” your anger, fear or anxiety keeps the
stress inside. Ask for help, you’re worth it!
• Take a break from your phone as you walk. Look at the clouds,
trees and people, and as you eat look at your food and enjoy the
flavors and textures. Experience life away from electronics.
The problem is not the mistakes we make, but how we learn and
move forward. Come into Health Services for a friendly smile, and
help with finding resources here on campus to maintain your balance.

Mary Sullivan is the Director of Health Education and Wellness,
and can be reached at 408-864-8733 or at her email,
[email protected].