Workshop provides strategies for students to cope with stress

Photo by Shelley Handley
Photo by Shelley Handley


By Shelley Handley

Midterms can bring stress at this time in the semester, so counseling provides supportive help for students, staff and faculty with a series of 50-minute session workshops.

On Oct. 8 in the Business building in room 202 more than 30 students, staff and faculty members met to hear counselor Laura Dodrill, M.Ed., speak about tips and strategies to cope with stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

GCC and ASU faculty, Kathryn English, knows all too well how overwhelming obligations can become. “At this time of the semester, it is harder for me to know if I am too hard or not hard enough with students,” she said.  “Managing stress as a teacher is important, for I have to be calm, relaxed and supportive as the lives of my students become more challenging.  I came to learn new strategies to reduce stress for myself and my students.”

“Even though stress cannot be eliminated, we can cope with it,” Dodrill said. 

Academics, financial responsibilities, new adult freedoms, temptations and decision-making are common stressors for students.  However, the leading cause of student failure is not stress; students fail when they don’t ask for help when they need it, she said. 

Our Western culture teaches us to be independent, to be strong to succeed, yet interdependence is what works better, Dodrill said.

Second year GCC student, Jasmine Mickels nodded in agreement.  Mickels along with students Morgan Witt and Daniela Felix came for more than extra credit in their class.   All three are beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed.

“Stress is an emotional and physical way in which we handle pressure.  We can become angry, resentful, sad, depressed or anxious if we don’t develop helpful strategies,” Dodrill said.

Dodrill provided tips on managing stress and becoming more emotionally aware.

The TARP method teaches four skills: 

1.) Tune in to what is happening by noticing how stress physically and emotionally impacts you. 

“Emotional awareness, especially building an emotional vocabulary, helps us to define how we feel about what is happening in our lives.  Physical awareness helps us to begin to identify our body’s response to the stress occurring,” Dodrill said.

2.) Analyze the causes of stress in your life. “Relationships, work, responsibilities, and lack of time can take a toll in our lives,” said Dodrill.  “Doing a self inventory, how are we doing, and assessing how much we are doing helps us to recognize the difference between our feelings and our actions, responses…becoming emotionally and socially aware helps us to manage our relationships and our time more effectively.”

“Importantly, everyone needs a mentoring relationship,” she said.  “Establishing a supportive relationship with someone who can help you find answers to things you don’t know helps you to reduce your stress.”

3.) Respond properly to stress helps with success.

“Changing your environment and learning relaxation skills can help you cope more successfully with stress.  If temptations are interfering with accomplishing goals, then remove yourself from that place.  Practicing relaxed breathing when life is calmer, helps you to manage the physical tension more effectively when life becomes more overwhelming,” said Dodrill.

“Stinkin ‘Thinkin’ about what is happening doesn’t help…and, sadness and depression are warning signals to seek help,” she said. “Friends and counselors can help you to examine the relationships between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors so that you can make better choices and experience more strength and balance in your life.”

Career and Counseling Center, Math Solutions and the Center for Learning are supportive environments with caring persons for students, staff and faculty said Dodrill.

4.) Preventing stress by making a plan gives you more control.

“Choosing to make a schedule, exercise, eat less sugar and consume less caffeine, budget money, and get adequate sleep are all effective ways to lower and prevent the negative impact of stress on your health,” Dodrill said.

Antwon Woodcox, an experienced college student, said that he was glad he attended, “Learning these tips is really helpful. Life is stressful, and coming here has given me things to do to manage the tough stuff.”

The next workshop, Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination, is on Wed. Oct. 21 from 1-2 p.m. in the Business building in room 202.  The Director of Admissions, Angela Acuña will be the presenter.

For more information contact Counseling Services at 623-845-3064.

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