Helping out our friends

College is stressful for everyone, but you aren’t in it alone. We want to be able to support our friends when they are having difficult times or are feeling stressed out. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to talk to friends when we notice there may be a problem. It can also be hard to tell when a friend needs extra support, from just developing better stress management skills or if the person is dealing with a more significant problem.

Some common signs that a friend might need help include:

  • Depression or sadness that interferes with obligations
  • Inability to cope with day-to-day problems
  • Extreme highs, shown by burst of energy, sleeplessness, or compulsive behavior
  • Severe and frequent anxiety and stress
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

How do you respond?

Depending on your relationship with that person, you may be able to talk to the person one-on-one or you may want to let someone else know about the problem, like a professor or a resident assistant. Remember that you aren’t a therapist and you’re not responsible for solving your friend’s problems. However, you do want to be supportive of the person and encourage them to reach out to family, the counseling center, or another medical professional.

What do you say?

Try to be patient and supportive of your friend. Even if you don’t understand the problem, you can still be compassionate and listen. Here are some things you can say to a friend:

  • We all go through tough times.
  • You can feel better. Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, reaching out for help is a first step.
  • It’s ok to ask for help. There are many resources available on campus to provide support for students.

Stress and your mind

Keeping our stress in check is difficulty with the constant pressures of college. Sometimes stress can serve to motivate us, but too much stress for too long can have detrimental effects on our minds and our bodies. The video below explains how stress can be good- and bad.


There are ways to combat stress- some of these things we can integrate into our daily routine to help manage stress.

  • Time management. Plan ahead to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time for your schoolwork and other obligations.
  • Take one thing at a time. Deal with one urgent task at a time, and then move to the next. When overwhelmed, don’t try to do everything at once.
  • Be realistic. Know when you can’t handle anymore on your plate and don’t be afraid to saw no to new activities.
  • Taking 5 to 10 minutes a day for quiet reflection can bring some relief. After a stressful day, find a quiet place to breathe deeply for a few minutes or go for a walk to clear your mind.
  • Thirty minutes of physical activity per day helps both the body and mind.
  • Take a break. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a break and do something you enjoy.
  • Share your feelings. Don’t try to cope alone. Let family, friends, or someone on campus know you need support or guidance.



Breathing through stress

Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing technique that helps to increase oxygen in the body and decrease stress. When we’re stressed, we tend to only use the upper part of our lungs, or breathing with our upper chest. This shallow breathing causes a disruption in the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in our bodies and increases our anxiety.

Diaphragmatic breathing can be done at any time, and anywhere. You can check out the this link for guided breathing instructions or follow the simple list of steps.


  1. First, begin by breathing at your normal pace, inhaling and exhaling through the nose or exhaling through pursed lips.
  2. Rest one hand lightly on your abdomen just below your ribcage and one hand on your upper chest.
  3. As you inhale slowly, feel your stomach move outwards. When you exhale, feel your stomach sink inward. The hand on your chest should stay as still as possible.
  4. Continue to take deep breaths, feeling your stomach rise and fall. If you’re having trouble at first, try exaggerating the movements of your stomach.
  5. After awhile, you begin to feel more relaxed.

What does stress look like?



A certain level of stress is normal for everyone, especially college students. However, too much for too long may interfere with your academic performance and cause both physical and emotional issues. Here are some signs that your stress level might be crossing into an unhealthy zone:

  • Taking longer to fall asleep or waking up tired
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Increased frequency of headaches
  • Feeling more short-tempered
  • Recurring colds or minor illnesses
  • Muscles aches or tightness
  • Feeling more disorganized than usual
  • Increased difficulty in task completion
  • A greater sense of persistent time pressure
  • Increased generalized frustration and anger

If any of these signs persist for several weeks, you can try some stress management techniques, or reach out to someone on campus for support. Next week, we’ll bring you information on some easy techniques that will help manage your stress.

Welcome to Wellness

College is a difference experience for everyone. It’s easy to get caught up in class schedules, sports, clubs, volunteer work, homework, studying, and friends and forget about our own emotional, physical, and mental health. The SPU Wellness Initiative wants to help you in your journey through college and all address all the difficulties that you might face. Over the next few months, we’ll be bringing you information on stress, mental illness, and how to recognize and cope with those issues. Check back here for weekly updates!