Students racing to classes

Student using a Lime electric scooter to navigate a crowded campus with students embracing the start of the fall semester on Aug. 29, 2022. 

As sentiments of stress and anxiety begin to fill the minds of students, many reflect upon strategies to not only escape, but to cultivate a positive environment for mental health to prosper. 

Haley Wallace, the marketing, design and communication program manager on the Risk Intervention and Safety Education team (RISE), said stress looks different for everyone, and an individual does not need many signs to reach out or ask for help. 

“Stress management is modeled after the stress curve. That is where you reach this point where all of the stress kind of accumulates and you think, ‘I can get through this by being more productive’ or ‘I can just work my way out of this’ but in terms of how you feel and the amount of stress in your body, that's just not really the way that your body works," Wallace said. "So the way to manage that may look like re-evaluating your boundaries, and what is good for you at the moment.”

For first-year student and advertising major, David Graham, from Houston, said stress is a common feeling many individuals can relate to.

“There's a lot of different types of stress,” Graham said “You can be stressed about different things: relationships, school, and I feel like in music there's always a song that can relate to what you’re saying; it can match your emotion and almost make you feel like you’re not alone in times of stress.” 

Graham isn’t the only individual who finds clarity within the music world. First-year biochemistry student, Khushi Bhakta from Abilene, said music has been a big part of her life as she plays the trumpet, piano and ukulele. 

“I guess it’s just something that takes my mind off of everything,” Bhakta said. “It's really easy to do, and it calms me down whenever I'm stressed out.”

For many, a stress detox occurs while spending quality time alone. However, some find joy within the company of others. Freshman Hannah Galt, a biology major from Sachse, said she uses her support system to listen and give solutions in times of frustration. 

Others exhaust stress in a physical manner. First-year psychology student, Jillian Fiero from Sachse, uses the gym as her outlet. 

“I like to work out a lot,” Fiero said. “That's like my biggest stress reliever. Anytime I feel really overwhelmed, or mentally unstable I just go to the gym and it really helps to get my mind  off things, and you end up just feeling better as a person after.” 

While there are many healthy ways to nurture your mental health, Wallace,  said it is important to ask yourself in times of distress whether you are coping to avoid your feelings, or processing them. 

“Once you use a coping mechanism, it is really important to go back and evaluate if it was good for you,” Wallace said. “That may look like asking yourself,  ‘Was this healthy for me?’ or ‘Did this have a positive outcome?’, because you can use a healthy coping mechanism in an unhealthy way.”

Taking a mental break can look different for each individual. Mechanical engineer major William Pipes, releases stress by taking a walk. Pipes said it is comforting not being confined to a space where he overthinks. 

“You’re always with your mind,” Pipes, a native from Houston, said. “You can get away from people that stress you out, but you can’t get away from your mind. So, it’s important to take time for yourself.”

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