Reduce Stress for Success

Published on 04 May 2018

Stress, when not coped with in healthy ways, is often the cause of illness and the deterioration of health. As a normal part of life, good stress gives us the motivation to get things done. Left unmanaged, however, bad stress can lead to emotional, psychological and even physical problems.

With finals in full swing and graduation right around the corner, it is easy to become overwhelmed with stress. Michelle Hastings, director of the Counseling Center at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, has provided some helpful tips on reducing negative stress in the short- and long-term.


Spending another hour studying or binging on one more Netflix episode might sound like good ideas at the time, but choosing to sleep less can actually make you more stressed out. Sleep is one of the most important activities you need to decrease stress in your life. Sleep helps consolidate all of the information you learned that day. Depriving yourself of sleep, will boost your stress level and make you less productive, more emotional and more reactive to stressful events in your life.


Deep abdominal breathing elicits the relaxation response and increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, promoting a state of calmness. This state can decrease your blood pressure and metabolism and steady your heartbeat. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique: Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Release your breath from your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat 3-4 times.


A regular hobby or interest can provide an outlet for stress relief and help you maintain a balanced lifestyle. Find an activity that allows you to be creative, have fun and will give you something to look forward to after a hard day (or week). By taking part in pleasurable activities, you will feel less of a need to recover from burnout.


Healthy relationships can serve as a buffer against stress.  Invest in those that sustain you and let go of relationships that drain you. Strong social support can help your immune system and increase your longevity and creativity. 


Cultivating gratitude creates a sense of emotional well-being, higher overall life satisfaction and a greater sense of happiness in life. Take time each day to write down three things you are grateful for in your life.


Living in chaos and clutter can create stress. It can take up our time, money and peace of mind. Aim to be more organized with how you spend your time and give away the things you don’t need. The mental load gets to be too heavy without an occasional clearing of the closets and calendars.


Being unable to say no can make you exhausted, stressed and irritable. It can get in the way of any efforts you make to improve your own quality of life, create resentment and may even make others, besides yourself, suffer. Practice setting boundaries with commitments and people who may ask too much from you.

Ask for Help

Even with these helpful tips, sometimes the weight of stress can still feel greater than one’s ability to overcome it. The College takes pride in providing students with a supportive community, and encourages students to see the strength in asking for help. For assistance or just a compassionate ear, the College offers free counseling services to students through the Counseling Center. For more information, contact Michelle Hastings, Ph.D., at

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