Health & Wellness provides services and education to help you
understand stress and build resilience.
Many variables contribute to stress. Our certified wellness coaches can help you make a plan to identify your sources of stress, set goals, and work towards balance.
- All visits are confidential
- This service is available to all UNH students and is offered at no cost for full-time students who have paid their tuition/fees.
- Make an appointment online or by calling (603) 862-3823.
NOTE: Our wellness coaches do not specialize in treating anxiety, depression, or other mental health difficulties. If you are seeking help for these concerns, call Psychological and Counseling Services at (603) 862-2090. If you are seeking mental health medical consultation or medication, call (603) 862-2856 to speak with a nurse.
Other Stress Resources at Health & Wellness
- Medical consultation or medication for mental health: call (603) 862-2856 to speak with a nurse or make an appointment online
- Monthly Wellness Calendar: daily tips and education on how to enhance your well-being
- Educational programs: our wellness educators/counselors and peer educators are available to provide educational programming for your class/group stress, sleep, wellness and self-care
- Events and workshops
- Mindfulness & meditation
- Massage therapy
- Light therapy
What is Stress?
Everyone experiences stress. It’s is your physical, emotional and mental response to life. Your body experiences hormonal changes and physiological responses when you are faced with a stressor. This is known as the stress response. This response occurs in your brain, which triggers your nervous system and then branches out to the rest of your body. This response is what gives you a burst of energy that helps deal with the perceived danger/stressor. This is why your heart beats faster, your skin gets flushed or your hands start sweating when you feel stress.
UNH students report stress as a top concern that negatively impacts their academic success.
Not all stress is bad. In fact, performance and wellness are enhanced with moderate and manageable levels of stress. Stress can create motivation. Without some stress, people wouldn't get a lot done. Positive stress is that extra burst of hormones that helps you to finish your final paper, win at sports, and meet everyday challenges.
The ability to learn from your stress is also built into your body’s stress response. For several hours after you experience a stressful event, your brain is busy rewiring itself to remember and learn from the experience. This brain activity helps you be better prepared to handle similar stressors the next time around.
When the danger/stressor has passed, your rest-and-digest response kicks in to help you calm down and return to a natural state.
Stress can turn troublesome if you are continually in an aroused state and can't return to a relaxed state. This happens when you avoid what is causing you stress, anticipate a stressor in the future or replay something stressful that happened over and over again in your head. This constant stress can be known as chronic stress and can take a toll on your health and wellness, often leading to mental and physical exhaustion and illness.
Possible Causes of Stress
- Relationships (family, friends, partner)
- Loss and grief – of any kind
- Academic pressure
- Dissatisfaction with field of study
- Roommates and living arrangements
- Transitions to college or home
- New environments
- Time management
- Balancing social life with academic life
- Unrealistic expectations, including perfection
- Physical health, acute and chronic health conditions
- Gender identity and sexual orientation
- Social media comparisons
Symptoms of Stress
Your body is very smart and has ways of sending you messages that you need to slow down and take care of yourself. Watch for these symptoms:
- Lack of concentration
- Memory problems
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Inability to problem-solve
- Depression and sadness
- Irritability, frustration, annoyance, anger
- Nervous, worried, fearful
- Feeling out of control
- Racing heart
- Rapid breathing
- Upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach "butterflies"
- Weight gain or loss
- Back, shoulder or neck pain
- Tension or migraine headaches
- Skin problems (i.e., acne, hives)
- Hair loss
- Sweaty palms or hands
- Fatigue or trouble sleeping
- Substance abuse
Avoiding your stress will make these symptoms intensify and become more challenging. If you turn towards your stress and find ways to cope, you will find these symptoms will lessen in intensity or go away.
Coping with Stress
Resilience & Stress Mindset
The way you view stress has an impact on your wellbeing and ability to cope and learn from stress. Learning new coping skills and habits will help you get better at stress and build resilience – or the ability to survive, thrive and bounce back from challenges.
Learn more about resilience below.
Sleep, Food, & Body Movement
Moving your body will release good stress hormones that can help you feel better. Hamel Recreation Center offers many opportunities to get your body moving. You can try intramural sports, personal training, yoga classes, group fitness, and more. Or, go for a walk around campus or College Woods. You don’t have to go to a gym to move your body.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness is the ability to know what is happening in your body and your mind so that you can gently turns towards what you are experiencing and possibly find relief. One way to be mindful is through meditation. Learn how we can help you create a mindfulness and meditation practice to cope with stress.
What is resilience?
Resilience is being able to turn towards your personal strengths to transform difficult or challenging experiences into learning opportunities. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. Each time you live through adversity, you learn something new about yourself and are more prepared for the next challenge you will face. Building resilience never stops.
You can learn to become resilient by paying attention to what is happening in your life and learning new skills and habits to help you cope with stress and challenges.
Being resilient doesn’t protect you from pain and suffering, but it can provide you better ways to respond so that you are able to face, overcome and be transformed from adversity.
"You can learn resilience. But just because you learn resilience doesn't mean you won't feel stressed or anxious. You might have times when you aren't happy - and that's OK. Resilience is a journey, and each person will take his or her own time along the way."1
These resilience factors will help you draw from your personal strengths to better prepare for, live through and learn from adversity.
Trusting others and yourself is the foundation of being resilient. When you trust others, you let go of the need to control what other people do and say and instead focus on yourself. When you trust yourself, you feel better about you are and confident in the decisions you make.
Establishing your own identity based on what you value is vital to living through adversity. A sense of identity helps you know the limits of what you can and can’t handle and affirms your right and need to be your own advocate. Once you understand what you value, you are better able to make choices that align with who you are.
Having a sense of independence is empowering because you do not seek the approval or advice from others. You are comfortable in asking people for support but don’t expect them to solve your problems. Independence lets you take action based on your own needs, not the needs of others.
- Relationship/Support Systems
Relationships can become more important when we are faced with difficult times. Relationships that are based on trust, respect and appreciation are vital to being resilient. Good relationships can decrease the feeling that you have to face life’s challenges on your own.
- Initiative & Problem Solving Skills
It’s important to be able to recognize what your needs are and the steps needed to get them met. Moving into action and problem solving is vital in being resilient because it gets you unstuck. Being able to problem solve helps you learn to master the skills necessary to solve problems and also makes you more likely to share your thoughts and feelings with others, talk with others, use support systems (friends, family, professors, etc.), reach out for help and develop good social skills.
Develop a Resilience Plan
Taking a moment to reflect and develop an achievable plan will help you prepare, live through and learn from a difficult situation. These questions can help you begin to reflect.
Prepare for a difficult situation
- What do I think is going to be the outcome of this difficult task/situation?
- Who will be affected by this problem and how?
- What are the obstacles that I need to overcome to deal with this problem?
- Who should know about the task or situation?
- Who can I ask for help?
- What strengths do I have that I can rely on?
- What skills and knowledge do I need to use to get through this task/situation?
Live through a difficult situation
- How am I feeling today?
- Have I taken time to practice mindfulness and meditation?
- How are the other people involved handling the situation?
- What new actions need to be planned or taken?
- What is going well? What is challenging?
- Fill in the blanks. What resilience factors will you draw on as you live through the problem?
- I have...
- I can...
- I am....
Learn from a difficult situation
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What did you learn about your friends?
- What did you learn about yourself when you had to ask for help?
- Why was this a meaningful experience for me?
1American Psychological Association. Resilience for Teens: Got Bounce? Last accessed January 8, 2021. https://www.apa.org/topics/bounce-resilience-teens
Grotberg, Edith H. 2001. Tapping Your Inner Strength: How to Find the Resilience to Deal with Anything.
American Psychological Association. Building Your Resilience. Last accessed January 8, 2021. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience