The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Brown Bag helps students manage stress

When coping with stress, combine both new and old strategies for optimal relief, said Marianne Stout, pre-doctoral intern at SMU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Service department.

“Stress isn’t just about negative things,” Stout said. “Birth of a child, change in job, even if it is good … transitions are always stressful.”

Stout proposed three main categories – thoughts, feelings and behaviors – through which stress is experienced. She then encouraged brainstorming among her audience to provide possible symptoms and solutions for each of these categories.

Trouble concentrating, difficulty with decision-making and rumination were some of the suggestions under the category “thoughts.”

“Feelings” was the next category. While many ideas, such as irritability and excess energy, were tossed around, most agreed they had at some point experienced guilt. Guilt generally occurs when one feels he or she is not performing as well as possible.

The last category, “behaviors,” included erratic tendencies such as disordered sleeping, disordered eating, passive aggressiveness and lashing out on others.

Sickness is another attribute of stress. The amount of stress a person carries is directly correlated to how physically ill he or she can get, according to a Social Readjustment Rating Scale handed out by Stout.

In other words, the less stressed someone is, the less likely that person will become sick, Stout said.

Luckily, there are many ways to de-stress. Solutions under the “thoughts” category included relying on a higher power, understanding attainability of realistic goals and putting situations into perspective.

Hope and trust were the two main “feelings” mentioned that could induce relaxation.

“Our whole lives are communal based,” Stout says. “How can I make sure I can trust [my community] with something that I don’t want everyone to see?” Letting go of this paranoia and relying on the core people one trusted will help ease the mind.

There are plenty of common “behavioral” solutions, most of which involve physical activity, such as taking deep breaths and exercising. Finding creative outlets to engage in, such as music, photography and journaling, are highly recommended as well.

“Externalizing what the problem is can be really helpful. You can throw it away after or keep it – whatever you’d like,” Stout said.

Some of the newer ways in which our culture is handling stress involve meditation and a new psychology idea called Acceptance-Based Therapy, Stout said. This therapy technique helps those who stress define the difference between what they can and cannot change.

Senior journalism major Megan Bice practices yoga meditation to help her deal with stress.

“I find the hardest part about it not letting my mind wander. So much of the time, we’re focusing on the past or the future.”

For more information on meditative stress relief, Stout recommends visiting www.learningmedication.com, which provides short guided meditations that help stressors focus on “being present in the here and now.”

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