Signs and Symptoms You May Be Stressed Out

Remember, stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stressful events trigger the fight or flight response. Usually it is experienced as a short term tension, leading to added mental alertness that subsides when the challenge has been met. Some level of stress is necessary - this is what helps us get our tasks done. However, we should return to that relaxed state once the challenge has been met. Stress that lingers for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and increase anxiety or depression.

Signs and symptoms of stress: irritability, changes in appetite, stomach aches, headaches, mood changes, trouble sleeping, loss of energy, and difficulty concentrating

If you are experiencing these or other symptoms from your stress, keep reading to identify methods to reduce your stress!



Tips to De-stress

There are a lot of ways to reduce your stress! Not every method works the same for everyone, but try out some below to see what benefits you the best!

one zebra with color inbetween their stripes telling another zebra that he is coloring for stress reliefA lady laying on her bed covered in lavendar. Title reads,"they said a little lavendar would help reduce stress"


Get active

Being active can reduce fatigue, release endorphins, and increase concentration and cognitive function, all things that stress induces or affect. Being active does not just mean going to the gym or for a run. Try out some of the activities below to blow off some steam!

  • Do some stretching
    A person on a rock with the sunset behind the. Title reads,"being active is more than just going to the gym. Get moving, have fun, and de-stress."
  • Try some yoga poses
  • Clean your room or back pack
  • Dance!
  • Walk to a coffee shop
  • Do some laundry (not great fun, but it will get you moving!)
  • Go on a walk to a nearbypark


Be social

Spending time with friends and meeting people is a great way to destress. It can help you try new things, get your mind off school, and make a lot of great memories! Bozeman has a lot of great places to go and things to do with friends!

  • Go on a walk together around Pete’s hill or Gallagator trail
  • Explore Hyalite
  • Go to the Sub Rec Center to bowl or play some pool
  • Do some coloring or crafts
  • See a movie at the Pro! OHA sponsors the first and third Friday of every month so your ticket would be free!
  • Listen to live music and drink coffee at RAD coffee house (every Friday night at Rendezvous)
  • Got to the Museum of the Rockies!
  • Walk around Main Street
  • Bozeman Hot Springs


Time Management

Time management can be an amazing tactic to reducing stress as it organizes your schedule and work load into smaller, more manageable chunks. It can also help you ensure you are making time for fun, de-stress activities like those above!

Coming up with a planning system that works for you is

Boss baby meme saying Planning like a boss

important to prepare for the busy life of a college student.  Consider utilizing a day planner, full calendar, or electronic planner on your phone, tablet, or computer.  Copy your assignments from your syllabi into your planning system and continue to add any commitments that pop up. In addition to putting everything into your planner, also make sure to use it! Check in every week to prepare for what's coming. 

Is a final project or the thought of graduating in 4 years overwhelming you? Taking the time to break these larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks will help you breathe easy.

Steps to break tasks down

  • Step back and envision the end result. Understanding where you are headed provides clarity on how to get there.
  • Think through the process. What steps will you need to take to accomplish the task? Treat each step as an individual task.
  • Create a realistic timeline. What needs to be done first, second, third, etc? Remember that challenging tasks often take longer than we anticipate.
  • Cross it off.

Today, there is increasing pressure to be constantly connected and available through gadgets, which can cause procrastination and then stress. Dedicate some time to be technology free. By putting down your phone to study or do homework, you will be more focused and get things done sooner and possibly of higher quality.


You also don’t need to turn to your phone every time you want to de-stress with a homework break. Read a book you enjoy, talk to a friend face-to-face, take a nap, or go for a hike. Enjoy a break from the demands of technology. Dedicate some time to be technology free. By putting down your phone to study or do homework, you will be more focused and get things done sooner and possibly of higher quality.

 Sometimes we have a tendency to overcommit to things or not want to let others down. If you really need to finish writing a term paper, but your friend wants to go get coffee together, put yourself and your needs first. Tell them that today isn’t great, but maybe tomorrow would work! Knowing that your big paper is finished will also allow you to enjoy the time with your friend more. Find the balance of doing fun things while also putting your goals and needs first.

De-stress fest

Every semester during dead week, our interns at the Office of Health Advancement hold a de-stress fest somewhere on campus! The event is meant to relieve stress in students through sensory activities, nutritious foods, and social interaction. Below are some de-stress fest activities you can try at home!

A zen garden of rocks and shrubs surrounding sand that has been spread out in pretty, swirly patterns

Zen Garden


  • Small container
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Tools (could be kids toys, eating utensils, or just sticks. Just something to move the sand around)


  1. Fill container with sand
  2. Place rocks in the sand 
  3. Use Tools to move the sand around and make designs!
A yellow balloon with a smiley face on it with pink string coming out of the top to make it look like hair

Balloon Stress Ball


  • Balloon
  • Funnel
  • Rice, sugar, or flour


  1. Take balloon and use the funnel to fill it with either rice, sugar, or flour. Recommended to fill about 3/4 full
  2. Once filled, tie ballon opening two or three times to ensure there will not be spilling. 
  3. Squeeze balloon and feel the stress melt away!
A hand holding green slime coming out of a clear bowl



  • Bowls (x2)
  • Borax powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • White glue (1/4 cup)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Food coloring


  1. Mix Borax powder and 1/4 cup water in bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix rest of water and the glue in different bowl.
  3. Combine the contents of the two bowls.
  4. Add food coloring as desired!



Improving Self-Talk

Self-talk is happening constantly in your mind. Ensure that it is positive and supportive since you have to listen to it all day long!

Thinking Errors to identify and change:

  • Catastrophizing: Blowing something's importance to be much more than it is. For example, getting a C in a class or final will not be the end of the world. There are a lot of resources available to help you succeed, despite set backs. 
  • What-if-ing: Worrying about the worst case scenarios. Panicking will not improve your chances of doing well in a presentation or on a test. Take a deep breath and study or work so you can do your best.
  • Filtering: Only focusing on the negatives. A final may have not gone as well as you had hoped, but think about all of the things that did go well! 
  • Overgeneralizing: Assuming that things will always go poorly because of one negative experience. You may have done poorly in one chemistry class, but that doesn't necessarily you will always fail at chemistry related things. Take each experience and class one by one and try your best. 

You can find these and other thinking errors at Stress Management for Dummies!

Positive Thinking

Positive thinkingnot only increases your coping skills to deal with stress but also lowers levels of negative stress. Positive thinking begins with practicing self compassion through positive self talk. This conversation is often overly critical, harsh, and irrational. To reduce stress, talk to yourself like you would a good friend.

Self compassion example:

  • Situation: I have a final exam tomorrow.
  • Irrational self talk: I’m going to fail. I shouldn’t have taken that class.
  • Rational self-talk: I passed my final exams last semester. I can do it again this semester.



Relaxation techniques provide relief from stress by slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and reducing muscle tension and chronic pain. They also improve concentration, reduce anger and frustration, and provide a confidence boost for better problem solving. Choose a technique that works for you and practice relaxing regularly.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple process that involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles in the body, leading to overall relaxation. Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.

Deep breathing can be performed anywhere or anytime you need a quick calm down, like before an exam. Simply place you hand below your belly and inhale slowly, feeling your belly rise. Hold the breath for 3 seconds. Breathe out slowly. Repeat as long as you like.

 Being mindful just means that you are absorbed in the current moment. Practicing mindfulness can ward away the temptation to ruminate, or play negative events over and over in your head. It also keeps nagging thoughts of everything you have to do in the next hour, day, week or month at bay so you can focus on the task at hand. You can practice mindfulness in everyday activities, like brushing your teeth.

Example: Start by focusing on your senses. What does the toothpaste taste like? How do the bristles of the brush feel against your teeth and gums? What does the water sound like as you rinse your toothbrush? When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the senses without judgment.

 Form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. In your vision, try to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body. You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot and loosen any tight clothing.


Want to learn more?

Visit our Wellness Blog to read other ways to manage stress! Below are some of our stress related blog posts. Click the picture to go to the post!


How to Manage stress in college.

 A male student working on a computer looking very stressed


Sleeping Essentials.

A lady laying in white, fluffy sheets fast asleep









Bozeman Yoga for Beginners.

A person doing yoga outside with the sunset behind them