Stress management: taking steps toward relaxation

Christina Vessa

Recognizing a few of the most common stress indicators, activities and resources on campus can help Colorado State students lead more relaxing lifestyles.

“Stress is the automatic reaction to a real or perceived stimulus,” said Janelle Patrias, manager of mental health initiatives at the CSU Health Network. “Stress is biologically based and becomes apparent through workload or unexpected reactions.”


Patrias explained that there are two types of stress: chronic and acute. Acute stress comes and goes with workload, and chronic stress is caused by things in life that are more enduring, such as extreme poverty.

According to Patrias, everyone has their own personal warning signals, which can include headaches, teeth grinding, excessive gum chewing and irritability. Patrias said it is important to recognize when someone has more stress in their life than they can handle.

“We live in this culture of competitiveness around stress, (like) who can tell the best story about who is stressed out the most,” Patrias said. “It’s kind of a stress culture that a lot of us are dealing with.”

Each individual has their own stress threshold, but steps can be taken to become more proactive about stress management.

Stress relievers

A range of activities, including physical activity and relaxation techniques, can be accessed on the CSU campus.

Campus Recreation Center

Campus Recreation offers a variety of stress relieving services to suit any student’s needs,” Brittany White, communications manager at the recreation center wrote to the Collegian in an email interview. “In addition to the Massage Therapy program, we have a variety of group fitness classes that are free to members, like Zumba, High Intensity Interval Training, Water Aerobics, Step, Kick boxing, and more.”

Reece Melton, a freshman agricultural education major, said he goes to the gym to play basketball and lift weights. He is on an intramural basketball team that allows him to take what he calls a “brain break”; doing something completely unrelated to his initial stressor.

Patrias also said yoga classes at the recreation center combine movement and calming activities.

“Membership is already included in full-time students’ fees (6 credit hours or more), so taking advantage of the services, programs, and facilities of Campus Recreation is so easy,” White wrote.



Starting Feb. 18, a meditation group will take place from 12:10 – 1 p.m. in Lory Student Center room 376. The free drop-in group will take place every Wednesday for the rest of the semester. Patrias said the group is a great way to shift perspective while practicing stress relief.

“I used to hang out at the Equine Science Center,” said Bekka Sonn, a senior equine science major. “There are free programs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights where I got to play with the horses, which was a complete change of pace from my normal school work.”

Quiet areas on campus

“I really like the forestry garden next to Summit Hall,” said Sylvia Laytin, a sophomore natural resources major.

Laytin said she relaxes at the new lounge areas in the LSC near the fireplace.

Service dogs

At the Resources for Disabled Students office at CSU, students can stop by for a puppy fix.

“Resources for Disabled Students … are really good about getting you back down to Earth,” Sonn said. “There are a couple of service dogs in and out of there that are allowed to be pet.”

Sonn is currently training her 15th service dog, Camu. She said anything that involves animals will usually relieve stress.

“I like when people bring their dogs on campus,” said Laytin. “Playing with them helps me relieve stress during the day between classes.”


Sonn also said talking to individual professors helps her relieve stress.

“They’re a lot more understanding than most of us give them credit for,” Sonn said.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached at or on Twitter @chrissyvessa.