On behalf of the School of General Studies, the Office of Counseling, Accessibility, Alcohol and Other Drug Services held an online event for students on April 26 to learn healthy strategies to manage their stress. During this 40 minute event students received information on how to distress with the end of the semester approaching.
Director of the Kean Counseling Center, Vidal Annan, Ph.D. opens up the event and welcomes all the students who joined. He knows that many students are at their highest level of stress this finals season and that this presentation will give them different ways to think about the challenges in their lives right now.
He begins with the phrase, "To Choose to Grow is to Choose to be Stressed." Many student's jumped to the comments expressing their thoughts on the quotation. Some believed that it meant growth won't happen without change and other's believed one needs to challenge oneself to grow.
Student's have grown a tremendous amount with the challenges they have faced this semester. Annan compares the stresses student's faced last year to that of the added stress with the shift online and life through the pandemic.
Although stress may always seem to be negative, Annan lets students know that there is such a thing as positive stress. These types of stressors can be identified as activities that stimulate the brain. They keep student's focused, determined, resourceful, energized and responsive.
However, negative stressors can take a toll on a person's body, thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
When under too much stress a person can experience headaches, stomach pains, low energy and a series of other problems within their body. Their thoughts can become clouded, distorted and unhelpful, also known as Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). They can experience feelings of sadness, anger or irritability.
Annan explains that the behaviors of someone who is under a lot of stress can vary depending on what it's motivated by. Those motivated by fear have passive behaviors, while those motivated by anger show more aggressive behaviors. People motivated by both anger and fear show passive-aggressive behavior.
People tend to manage their stress in unhealthy ways. This can be categorized by "Connecting the DOTS."
- D stands for Distractions. This is when a student does something else in order to avoid the main cause of stress. Everyone has different forms of distractions that get in the way of facing things head on.
- O stands for Opting Out. This is avoiding people, places and situations that can cause stress in the first place. This coping habit prevents a student from experiences and learning new things.
- T stands for Thinking. It can be described as "thinking your way out" of stressful feelings and pretending that they arent there.
- S stands for (unhelpful) Strategies. This includes but is not limited to substance use, self harm, shopping, sleeping and stuffing oneself (with food).
Student's are advised to avoid these behaviors as they can be very harmful and only worsen stressors. Instead one should look towards these healthy ways to manage their stress.
Students should learn to manage their time by organizing what tasks are most important and urgent to tasks that are not important and not urgent.
Being assertive and learning to say yes and no in a clear, respectful and considerate manner is important to lower the stressfulness of many situations.
And finally, students should prioritize and take care of themselves. They should part-take in any activity that would take care of ones mental, physical and emotional self.
For student's who still find themselves struggling to juggle all the stressors in their lives, they can contact the Office of Counseling, Accessibility, Alcohol and Other Drug Services through their phone at (908) 316-8217 or through email at email@example.com to set up an initial meeting and get the help needed.
A free an anonymous mental health screening is also available.
Any future events for the spring semester can be found on their Cougar Link.