45% of college students said the experience “more than average stress” according to American College Health Association-2018 National College Health Assessment. (PIXABY)
45% of college students said the experience “more than average stress” according to American College Health Association-2018 National College Health Assessment.


Collegiate Health: Coping Mechanisms

January 17, 2021

Balancing academics, social life and other responsibilities can be difficult and lead to stress, among other issues. It is important to know how to deal with these problems in a healthy and productive way to avoid other problems in the future.

“I would just encourage people to try to figure out what the problem is and if they can address the problem head-on,” Zachary Zoet M.A., LPC, counseling center assistant director, said. “If they can’t address the problem head-on then at that point it’d be better for them to figure out different ways to cope with it.”

There are ample coping mechanisms for all personality types from the worriers to those that are care-free. Zoet believes with a healthy mind, you can avoid having to work harder on tasks that will lead to the worst outcome.

“I would recommend different coping skills and strategies things like leaning on social support systems [or] figuring out how the stress plays out for you. If you are a worrier type stressor maybe finding distracting strategies, ways to do things that are fulfilling or make you happy. If you’re the kind of person that works best with mindfulness strategies maybe working out some way for you to practice meditation or mindfulness,” Zoet said.

Taking time to compose oneself is one Mustang’s way of coping with everyday stress. 

“Usually when I’m very stressed I try to take a few minutes for myself to do some of the things that I like to do, like going on walks or spending time with my friends,” Guadalupe Gamiz, social work senior, said.

The Mayo Clinic rallies behind exercise as it taps into the “brain’s feel good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America have found that “regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.” 

“I like to go to the gym; I think that’s a big destresser for me, because even if you’re stressed about a lot of other things, you at least get a decent workout in. Then that’s something positive you can say about the day,” Katherine Kurylas, social work sophomore, said.

Other Mustangs cope by taking a step back and trying to solve the problem little by little.

“Take it one thing at a time. If one thinks of everything they have to do, it’ll get overwhelming. Take it one step and one thing at a time,” Brittaney Rivera-Orsini, radiology sophomore, said.

Coping with stress or other problems looks different for everyone, but in the end, it aims to help with the issue at hand.

“There [are] just [as] many different ways to cope as there are people on the planet. It can look like drawing, sculpting, reading, writing, playing video games, running [or] playing basketball; there [are] so many different ways that people can find what works for them,” Zoet said.

Zoet believes that taking control of your stress – to a certain degree – can reduce the escalation of stress. 

“A lot of times it’s when we surrender that sense of control or we’re perceiving that we don’t have control that it really starts to escalate a lot of negative thinking styles and contributes to these patterns of stress. I would really encourage people, when they can, to try and exert a degree of control and mastery over their situation. The first step to do that is to figure out all the different resources that you have in order to change your situation,” Zoet said. 

 Zoet says that resources can be found on many avenues. For Mustangs, MSU provides a few for students to use, such as resources for academics such as the tutoring center at the library, physical health with the Vinson Health Center and mental health as well at the counseling center.

“The metaphor that I like to use for mental health is, your mental health it works with your body to be the whole of your car. You need your car to get where you’re going and if you don’t maintain your car because you’re so busy going here, going there, doing this, doing that, eventually, the car is going to break down,” Zoet said.“If you don’t prioritize your physical as well as your mental health you’re gonna be in a situation where you might be in a place in a time trying to do something but you literally can’t cross that finish line because you don’t have the resources that you’re needing to pull on in order to succeed. So prioritizing your physical and mental health is not really something that’s optional because you’re gonna expend so much more effort, energy, heartache trying to do a task.”

According to Zoet, the amount of brainpower and physical power that you can bring to the task is much higher when you’re taking care of yourself, and it will result in the best outcome.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of barriers to reaching out [and] getting that help…but we are here help. We love to help;

we consider our lives work and mission to be able to support our students. I would encourage students depending on their issue or concern there’s somebody really waiting to help you and connect with you without judgment to figure out how we can best realize where you are trying to go,” Zoet said.


8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Counseling Center services are available through tele-counseling. Call 940-397-4618 to schedule an appointment.

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