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Managing Stress at the University of Iowa

College can be a stressful time in any student’s life. The ever-changing schedule and rigorous academic, professional, and social demands can leave a student feeling like there is no time left in their day for self-care. For many students, there is balance between good stress and bad stress. Good stress helps to encourage and motivate a student. Bad stress, however, may leave a student feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed.

For students dealing with stress and academic demands, University Counseling Services (UCS) is here to help. UCS offers free counseling within or close to the UI residence halls, making it easy for students to get the support they need. Embedded therapists provide counseling services to students in both group and individual settings. They are available to assist students through a variety of situations and mental health concerns, including stress management, emotional regulation, and dealing with academic demands.

“Stress is something everyone experiences,” said Patrick Galligan, UCS embedded therapist. “However, when students come to college, they might encounter a bunch of new and different stressors. Some students struggle with academic demands, homesickness, or navigating living independently for the first time.  Others experience changes in their mood that make it difficult to get the most of our their academic and social lives.” 

If stress is not managed, it can lead to a variety of symptoms. “Students report a variety of symptoms that they experience with poorly managed stress including fatigue, inability to focus, change in eating or sleeping patterns, more intense emotional responses, or difficulty communicating with others,” said Dawn Bates, UCS embedded therapist.

There are numerous ways for students to manage their stress in college. These can include regular (aerobic) exercise, engaging with support systems, listening to music, meditation, and effective time management.  

"We try to help remind students that these are normal feelings and give them the tools needed to deal with stress in a healthy way." - Dawn Bates, UCS embedded therapist

There are instances, however, in which a student might need professional help. UCS is a professional resource available to provide students with the support needed to deal with a variety of situations and concerns. “We try to help remind students that these are normal feelings and give them the tools needed to deal with stress in a healthy way,” said Bates. To learn more about counseling services within the University of Iowa residence halls or make an appointment visit housing.uiowa.edu/counseling.