I know what you may be thinking…living without stress sounds GREAT!

However, when we think about stress, it isn’t always just bad stuff. Hear me out! Certain levels of stress are designed to help you perform–like the stress you may feel before an interview or a performance. The stress in those moments may give you energy and keep you motivated. Stress that helps you perform is often called “positive stress,” or eustress. Eustress can still feel uncomfortable, but it’s not so overwhelming that you can’t cope.


Stress to the other extreme, though, can hinder your performance. For example, if you’re studying material that feels too challenging, stress can pave the way for worry, fear, and doubt to creep in and overwhelm your attempts to study at all. Stress that hinders your ability to perform is often called “negative stress,” or distress. Distress can leave you feeling defeated rather than motivated.

Stressors impact all of us differently. For example, an exam might feel overwhelming to your friend, but that same exam could feel challenging and exciting to you. The two of you may thus experience studying for the exam very differently. Stress responses look very different for people depending on who they are, what else is going on in their life, and what coping skills they’ve learned.

Common indicators or signs of stress:

  • sweaty palms
  • increased heart rate
  • tension in one’s neck or shoulders
  • tension headaches
  • irritability
  • impatience
  • fatigue
  • ruminating or repetitive thoughts
  • worry or doubt
  • sudden change in appearance, behavior, or mindset

No one has to reach a certain level of stress or overload to get connected to campus resources. It is always OKAY and VALID to get yourself or others connected to resources on campus. So, if it feels right to engage with a campus resource or encourage others to do so, there is never a wrong time to get connected!

If you are looking for some support and strategies to help you maintain healthy stress, check in with a Health Coach — it’s FREE! Or check out one of the many other #BeWellUGA outreach events, workshops, and programs offered for free at UHC.

Finally, when navigating your daily life, learning to cope with negative and positive stress may make all the difference in your overall feelings of well-being. There are two ways to cope with a stressor: problem-based coping and emotion-based coping.

In moments of stress, ask yourself if you can change the situation or not.

If the answer is YES, focus on problem-based coping, or how to fix or change the situation.

If the answer is NO, focus on emotion-based coping, or how to best shift the way you’re thinking about the stressor.

Essentially, either thinking of ways to fix the situation or managing emotions about a stressor that cannot be changed will help you to move forward! Taking notice of and challenging our stress responses takes some intentionality, but just like anything else, with practice it may become more innate, automatic, and what we naturally turn to in an effort to help reduce stress.

Taking care of ourselves in moments of stress is crucial. Remember in difficult moments to turn back to the things that make you happy and help you take care of yourself. These sources of happiness can be small and take only a few minutes, but taking time to incorporate them into your life can reap positive results. You are so supported in this journey!

Want to chat with someone? We are here for you!


Written by: Liana Natochy, Alcohol and Other Drug Coordinator / Health Promotion