The Wellness Resource Center


Stress Management

Wellness > Mental Health > Stress

What exactly is stress and what can it do to our minds and bodies?

Did you know that stress is the number one reported factor that students say impacts their academic success at VCU?1

Stress is a product of our sympathetic nervous system which activates our fight, flight or freeze response. It produces hormones called cortisol, epinephrine, a norepinephrine. These hormones can cause your heart to beat faster and cause your blood pressure to rise. Prolonged stress can can lead to increased cholesterol and even heart attacks.  

When we’re stressed, our bodies can’t differentiate between when we see a bear and when we see an exam. That’s potential panic, is a part of our flight, fight, or freeze response. Sometimes our bodies stay in that response, even after the threat has already passed and is no longer a threat!

However, stress isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, some level of stress can motivate us to check things off of our to-do list, get us thinking creatively, or even help us get up in the morning.

What are some ways that we can cope with stress?

Mindfulness, sleep, self-care, time management and self-compassion are all ways that we can cope with stress.  It’s possible that something that has been our go-to way to de-stress is no longer working. Sometimes, finding what works best for you can be a process of trial and error.

Another way to get ideas for managing stress is to consult with friends and loved ones. What are they doing to take care of themselves?

Trying different ways to manage stress is essential to finding what works best for you.

Want to learn more? Check out these videos about stress.


 1The Well's Health Survey, Spring 2018, n=986