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How Cal State Fullerton Students Manage Stress

A man smashes a plate with a hammer.
Mitchell Aragon / Tusk Magazine

Have you ever panicked over an exam? Or felt as if your busy schedule melted your brain into jelly so smooth you could spread on toast?

If so, you’re not alone. Tusk asked your fellow Titans how they cope with stress: From slinging paint to Christmas-themed naps.

Creative coping

“I make crafts and sell them on Etsy. I make crafts out of perler beads. It’s very soothing.”

-Riley, senior

“Sometimes I go outside and throw paint at a canvas just completely yelling and pretend I’m in the Princess Diaries.”

-Tabitha, junior

I stress bake a lot of things. I’ll just bake cookies non-stop until I am calmed down.”

-Rachel, freshman

Dr. Piazza of the public health department offers art as a tool to shift focus away from stress.

“Art is something you can do to relax and take you to a place of mindfulness,” said Piazza. “If you’re doing something creative, you’re focused on that task and not on the exam coming up.”

Active release

“Sometimes. I feel like I need to drop everything and go do something I enjoy. I really like the outdoors, so anything with the outdoors, I’ll go do it.”

-Karina, sophomore

Piazza encourages you to get physical when you start to experience stress while studying.

“Physical activity is great because it’s doing what your body is meant to do,” said Piazza. “When you’re having a physiological reaction, it’s because your body wants to flee.”

Cognitive control

“The easiest way I deal with stress is not thinking about the stress.”

-Sophia M., junior

Piazza referenced a study showing how the way you think about stress influences your physiological response.

“Think about stress in a positive way,” said Piazza. “When you start to feel your body reacting, say to yourself, ‘My body is getting ready for this task: enabling me to achieve and do well.’”

Enjoyable activities

“I like to go for drives, get my mind off the situation and come back to it with a fresher, clearer mindset.”

-Baylee, senior

“I go to the beach and hangout with my friends. Just talking and clearing my mind, sharing my thoughts.”

-Huy, senior

“I spend a lot of time watching sports and live vicariously through them. When I watch football, I pretend I’m the person hitting everyone.”

-Ian, freshman

“I reward myself with a nap and I listen to a lot of Christmas music. It doesn’t matter what time of the year.”

-Trinity, freshman

Dr. Mori, a clinical psychologist, suggests partaking in pleasurable pastimes to boost serotonin and dopamine.

“Dopamine is our pleasure hormone and it’s also important for things like higher order cognitive abilities: problem solving, memory, and critical analysis,” she said.

Organization and balance

“I write deadlines, dates or times on my hands. It stays there because it’s pen, but it’s not a practical method, especially when I have paper.”

-Sophia, junior

“I take breaks … but flash cards don’t stress me out, they make me calmer.”

-Kempsey, freshman

“I like to plan things in advance and stay really organized.”

-Brian, senior

Mori recommends organizing a well-rounded schedule to combat stress.

“Balance your life with more than work and school,” said Mori. “Plan a schedule to make sure you have time to sleep, read, study, and prep. But also make time for fun activities, working out, and eating well.”

Passive coping

“I start to freak out about the situation if it is stressful. If I have to get to it, I will focus and pull myself together or I just sleep it off.”

-Lani, freshman

“I procrastinate, go on social media and pretend I have nothing to do until I have to, and then I freak the fuck out.”

-Anita, senior

Dr. William Marelich, a psychology professor, advises on taking an active approach to stress.

“The idea of ignoring and hoping it goes away is bad because it doesn’t really go away,” said Marelich. “That’s what is called passive coping.”

“Take an active approach: figure it out, have discussions, get a sense of what the stressor is. Then come up with positive ways to cope with the stressor.” Marelich said.

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