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Cougar Health Services stress management

Get stress management tips on your phone

Get stress management tips

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want tips for managing your stress? We can help!

Join our text messaging program and we will:

  • Check in with you every week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress
  • Share information about health-related events and resources around campus

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 844-486-0046. You can join at any point in the semester!

You can also check out our stress management workshops and other programs.

Overcome the stress of perfection

Overcome the stress of perfection

Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing. It can help you excel at your job and in class. But having standards that are too high can lead to stress and feelings of frustration when they’re not met.

Perfectionism is the tendency to set standards so high, they’re unattainable or only met with great difficulty. Someone who has perfectionist tendencies believes that anything short of perfect is a problem and fears making mistakes.

The effects of perfectionism

Feelings. Perfectionism can cause you to feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. If you tend to criticize yourself for not doing what you think is a good job, these feelings can be more intense.

Thinking. You might think anything less than perfect is a failure. You may believe your self-worth depends on your achievements and that others judge you based on your accomplishments.

Behaviors. Perfectionism can cause you to chronically procrastinate, have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily on something because you don’t feel it’s perfect. Perfectionism can also keep you from being creative and innovative.

Mental health. Perfectionism is related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress.

So how can you tell if perfectionism has gotten out of hand? Ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult for me to meet my own expectations?
  • Do I feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry when I try to meet my standards?
  • Do my standards get in the way of doing what I want or need to do?
  • Do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or be spontaneous?

Tips for overcoming perfectionism

Think realistically. Challenge negative self-talk with realistic statements and self-compassion. For example, when you start to be overly critical of yourself, try to be kind and remind yourself nobody is perfect.

Try a new perspective. When you don’t meet your own expectations, try and view yourself as a friend would. They’d probably highlight positive things. Sure, you didn’t work out five days last week, but you made it to the gym three times and that’s a perfectly reasonable amount.

Conquer procrastination. Perfectionists tend to put off to dos because they may be unsure how to do something perfectly. Try practicing self-compassion for overcoming procrastination.

Create realistic expectations. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Try to spend these resources on projects, assignments, and other things that are most important. Prioritizing your to do list and setting SMART goals can help you set realistic expectations.

Allow yourself to make mistakes. You might fear making mistakes, but making them is a completely natural and expected part of human existence. After you make a few mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not the worst that can happen.

The content in this post is adapted from Anxiety Canada‘s  guide on “How to overcome perfectionism.”

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

Pilot stress program helps over 150 Cougs

We’re helping over 150 Cougs lower their stress with our interactive pilot text message program. Every week we check in with students to see how they’re doing, then send them personalized tips for relieving stress.

According to National College Health Assessment data over the years, WSU students consistently report stress as the most common health-related factor affecting their academic performance. In 2016, 51.6 percent of Cougs said they experienced more than average stress in the past 12 months.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the stress management texting program, and we’re eager to offer it to students again next year.

Moving forward, we want to collaborate with campus partners to increase the number of activities and resources to help Cougs lower their stress. And we’re exploring the possibility of creating a similar program just for graduate students.

We were able to provide the pilot stress management program with support from student technology fees and student activity fees.

Get personalized stress management tips

Get personalized stress management tips

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want personalized stress management techniques? We can help! This semester we’re launching a new text messaging program to help you relieve your stress.

We will:

  • Check in with you every other week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress, customized to your individual stress level
  • Enter you to win a free Ferdinand’s ice cream grabber whenever you do a check in

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 30644. Text messages will start March 1, but you can join at any point in the semester.

For any questions about this program or our stress management workshops, give us a call at 509-335-WELL.

Fight procrastination with self-compassion

Fight procrastination with self-compassion

Procrastination is the bane of every college student’s existence. Up to 95 percent of college students report procrastinating!

Most advice for how to stop procrastinating isn’t actually helpful. Many articles on procrastination give tips like “just get started!” This kind of advice treats procrastination like a time management problem – which isn’t always the case.

Sometimes procrastination is a way we cope with stress and anxiety. For example, if you feel anxious about writing a 10-page paper, you might put it off and distract yourself for several hours in order to avoid those feelings.

Procrastination can be a self-perpetuating cycle. When we put things off, we tend to get mad at ourselves and feel frustrated about all the work we need to do. And in turn, these negative feelings make us more anxious and more likely to procrastinate.

So how can you stop this cycle? Recent research suggests that practicing self-compassion may be more effective for reducing procrastination than trying new time management strategies.

The next time you find yourself procrastinating on an assignment, try some of these strategies for cultivating more self-compassion.

Just notice. Most of us don’t realize how negative our self-talk can be. Listen to how you talk to yourself. What’s your internal dialogue like after you experience something frustrating, challenging or embarrassing? Whatever you notice, label it non-judgmentally.

Take a breath. When we slow our breathing, every other system in the body follows, including our thoughts. After you’ve labeled your negative self-talk for what it is, take a deep breath and notice how you feel. Frequently practicing deep breathing will also help you manage stress!

Remind yourself that you’re human. Just about everyone struggles with procrastination and getting work done. Picture what you would tell a friend who was struggling with this problem and try to take your own advice.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out for more details and tips for practicing self-compassion.

Learn how to prevent and recover from burnout

Learn how to prevent and recover from burnout

We often hear of people in high-stress or challenging careers experiencing burnout like teachers, nurses or social workers.  But what is burnout?

Burnout is more than just a lack of motivation, which everyone experiences from time to time. Burnout is a debilitating state that can happen after experiencing a large amount of stress over a long period of time. It can include frustration, chronic fatigue, emotional exhaustion, difficulty focusing, lack of motivation and a decreased sense of purpose about work. All of these symptoms can lead to a decline in job or academic performance.

The most common cause for student burnout is assignment overload – too much work from too many classes. Family issues, financial stress and outside jobs can also contribute to student burnout.

Prevent burnout

Burnout is preventable! Try some of these tips to reduce stress before it becomes debilitating.

  • Take care of yourself! When we’re busy, we tend to stop our self-care practices. Try to schedule time to do something that nourishes your soul. Take a yoga class or go to a movie, guilt-free.
  • Stay social. You may feel like you don’t have the time or energy for socializing with friends. Fight the urge to isolate yourself and make sure you spend time around other people. Connecting with others is essential to happiness and emotional health. Go to an event, schedule a dinner with friends or study with a classmate. If you’ve been neglecting your social life, make it a priority!
  • Try meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you focus your attention and awareness on the breath. Meditation has been found in thousands of studies to help reduce anxiety, depression and stress, while increasing happiness and quality of life. Despite its simplicity, meditation is something that you have to practice! Start small and sit quietly with your eyes closed while counting your breath for 5 minutes or less. Try a meditation app to help you learn!

Recover from burnout

Maybe you’re already feeling burnt out. Recovery from burnout will take time and a dedicated effort to rebalance your mind and life.

  • Decrease your responsibilities. Write out all of your commitments – classes, clubs, jobs, projects, relationships. Identify which items are absolutely essential, and cancel, drop, and say “no” to everything else that isn’t an absolute necessity. Talk to any clubs or organizations you’re involved with and see if you can reduce your responsibilities for a while.
  • Reach out for help. This is the most important thing you can do! If your course load is unmanageable, meet with your advisor and ask for their help. If you have a job, talk to your supervisor about what you’re going through and see if there are ways they can help.
  • Use campus resources. You’re not alone and there are many resources on campus and people who want to help! As a student you get access to free counseling through Counseling and Psychological Services. Our counselors can offer you a place to talk about your burnout and stress, as well as give insight into resources, services and support that is available to you.