When Stress is Too Much

School is stressful. And having a little bit of stress in your life is good—it keeps you motivated and makes life interesting. But too much stress can be unhealthy. And other times, stress is a symptom, not the problem. So, when is stress too much to handle and when is it time to figure things out? Well, let’s take a look at a couple indicators of when you might need to take your stress to a doctor.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and what I say should not be used as a reason to NOT go to a doctor. If you have any question about it at all, it is better to get it sorted out as soon as possible!


Here’s the real deal: typical stress has a lot of the same symptoms as many other underlying causes. Take clinical depression, for example (I am EXTREMELY passionate about depression). Both stress and depression share the symptoms of feeling bad about yourself, avoiding others, feeling overwhelmed and a lack of control, and becoming easily agitated or moody. A lot of other physical health issues have similar symptoms, as well. So, how do you know whether stress is the problem or if stress is just a symptom? My general rule of thumb for this is if you experience five differences between your normal self and your “stressed out” self, you should see a doctor. For me, if I am experiencing a difficult time sleeping, a lack of motivation, an agitated mood, and two other symptoms, I know that I need to go to my doctor! Once again, this is not all-encompassing. Even if you have just one symptom, you still have reason to go see a doctor. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Time period

Stress is usually dependent on the stressors of your life. These stressors may include family or social pressures, upcoming midterms or assignments, a lack of sleep, etc. But when the stress lasts even after the stressor is gone, you might want to take a closer look at it. My general rule of thumb is two weeks, but this is just a recommendation. If you notice any of the symptoms talked about previously that last more than two weeks, check with your doctor!

How it affects your daily life

Especially regarding mental health, a big factor in treatment is how your life is affected by the illness. But for anything in life–if you notice a decline in your grades, a decline in enjoyment in fun activities, or a decline in your social life–it may be a reason to check with your doctor. Stress should only impact your life in minor ways. In my experience, the agitated mood I used to get would negatively impact my relationships with everyone I interacted with on a daily basis. And when I realized that I was losing my friends because of my mood, I realized I needed to make a change!

And finally…

Whether the issue is stress or something more, there is help available! Check out the many resources the Counseling and Consultation Services has to offer by going to their website or by going to Let’s Talk, which offers free and confidential drop-in consultations in the Lower Level Meeting Room at the Union on Thursdays from 2:30-4:30. Or go to the Wilce Student Health Center for a check-up and overall health care. You can make an appointment online, by phone, or in person. Maybe you just need some time to relax and destress or learn about stress and time management. If this is the case, you can check out the First Year Success Series to register for a session, and get credit for your survey class!

Being stressed out in college is normal–but not a reason to deny yourself help if you become over-stressed or if you need some time to de-stress. Being proactive and listening to your body will benefit you in the long run, especially if something else is contributing to your feelings of stress. Put your wellness in a professionals hands. Your future self will thank your present self.

Ask Dr. Jenna*: Tips for Flu Season Away from Home

I think I suffer from a perpetual cold. Maybe it’s spending time outside walking to class, or maybe my immune system is just wimpy, but I swear my nose is drippy from October to March (too much info? maybe).

Sometimes that cold turns into something worse, and you’re stuck in bed, missing class, and wanting your mom to take care of you. Trust me, I’ve been there. Whether you’re already hacking up a lung or desperately trying to avoid it, here are some quick tips for beating (and avoiding) the flu.

Take Preventive Action

Get your flu shot.

ASAP. The Wilce Student Health Center has walk-in hours for flu shots, which cost $30. Depending on your insurance, though, part or all of this cost may be covered. Additionally, places like the CVS Minute Clinic also provide flu shots. As a clarification, you cannot get the flu from the shot. The shot contains dead virus of the most prevalent strains predicted for this year. If you do get sick around the same time, it’s possible you could have picked another variant close to when you were vaccinated.

Wash your hands frequently.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but take a minute to think about all the public things you touch on a regular basis: door knobs, hand rails, even your BuckID can harbor bacteria. If you don’t have time to run to the bathroom constantly (who does?), Bath and Body Works has mini hand-sanitizers in scents that scream fall and are $1 a piece. I know I like to smell like a PSL at all times. If you’re looking for something more traditional, check out CVS or take a CABS ride to Target at Lennox.

Get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. 

Getting more than 6 or 7 hours a night may seem impossible during midterm season, but make sure you are getting your rest. Your body needs that time to recharge and fight off infection, so if you feel illness coming on, hop into bed an hour or so earlier than you usually do. You’ll be happy you did. Also, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Sipping from a reusable bottle during lecture will help you pay attention and help drown out virus in your body. If you have a sore throat, there are tons of varieties of tea available on campus (my personal favorite is orange chai)! And if you bring your reusable mug, you can refill for the price of a small, SCORE.


If you are sick, stay home!

Don’t spread your germs to your friends and peers.

It can be nerve-wracking to miss class, especially if attendance is mandatory, but if you’re sick, you’re sick. If you are able, go to the Wilce Center and see a doctor to get an excuse from class. If you are not that ill, just email your professor and/or TA to let them know you won’t be in class. Taking the responsibility to find out what you missed is a good way to earn good graces with them. Most are understanding and offer one or two freebie absences for illness. Also, be sure to grab the lecture notes from a friend or online if they upload them to Carmen.

Again, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

At this point in the semester, you probably have a few extra blocks piling up. Kindly ask your roommate to grab you some soup and Powerade from the C-Store. This way, you won’t be missing out on all your nutrients just because you are bedridden.

I hope these tips are helpful for you as cold and flu season pick up.

*I am not a doctor, I just thought the title was clever. If you think something is wrong, definitely seek out medical advice from your primary care provider.

Stay healthy!