Stress is an inevitable part of life; it can take a toll on students’ physical health, emotional wellbeing, and academic success unless they learn to manage it appropriately. College students experience stress related to changes in lifestyle, increased workload, new responsibilities, and interpersonal relationships.1 Extreme levels of stress can hinder work effectiveness and lead to poor academic performance and attrition.2 College students who experienced stressful life events also reported worse health outcomes and reduced quality of life.3 Introducing successful coping strategies may help students avoid the destructive consequences of excessive stress.
This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to help prevent negative consequences of stress among NYU students.
• Encourage students to utilize university academic support services. Recommend that students utilize university academic support services such as the Academic Resource Center, the Writing Center, or the University Learning Center. Tutorial support can safeguard students from the consequences of stress.15 As a faculty member in a position of respect and authority, your willingness to speak openly and positively about supportive services could help eliminate perceived stigma or shame for some students needing help.
• Talk about where students can go for help before they need help. At the beginning of the semester and during difficult times of the semester, like around mid-terms and finals, remind students that they can call the Wellness Exchange at 212-443-9999 or speak to a counselor at the Student Health Center. Presenting these resources in an open and nonjudgmental way will help students see you as an ally while making them aware of helpful resources.
• Be aware of, and understand that financial resources can be a source of stress for students. Should students be struggling financially, encourage them to engage with the Bursar, Financial Aid Office, and the NYU Money Management Resources page sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs.
• Encourage students to develop safe, regular stress reduction routines. Techniques such as meditation,16 biofeedback,17and mindfulness18 have been shown to reduce the negative consequences associated with stress among students. NYU offers a number of stress reduction opportunities within and outside of the university community. Visit the Stress Resource Guide and LiveWellNYU.com for on-campus opportunities and resources to help students manage their stress.
• Model stress-management techniques in your class. Use the five minutes before class begins to conduct a stress reduction exercise such as meditation or diaphragmatic breathing to help students prepare for an exam or class period. For tips or downloadable MP3s, visit the NYU Relaxation Oasis.
• If there appears to be any confusion about class expectations, provide additional review of course requirements. Affording students a structured learning environment can allow them to feel more in control of the situation and set priorities, which can decrease their levels of stress.19
• Advise your students to create a schedule in order to prioritize tasks.Poor planning is a common cause of excessive stress among students. Students who see themselves as being in control of their time, a feature indicative of good time management, report experiencing less negative characteristics related to stress.20 Practice with time management can lead to better study habits, improved learning, and overall increased productivity.
• Give consistent feedback to students and offer to meet to discuss their work so that they know how they’re performing in the course. Effective feedback can inspire the positive stress that propels students to act instead of the negative stress that impairs learning outcomes.21
• Be accessible to students. Your role as a mentor or advisor can contribute to a student’s sense of belonging in the university community, which can positively impact his or her ability to cope effectively with stress.21 Consider taking on a more formal mentorship role through the Wasserman Center for Career Development’s mentor network for students and faculty.