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Stress is the body’s physical, emotional or chemical response to demands made upon it. These come in all shapes and sizes – driving in city traffic, working under tight deadlines and fighting with a friend are all potentially stressful events. The amount of stress we experience has as much to do with our view of an event as with the actual event itself.

When stress accumulates with little or no relief, a chronic stress pattern develops, often resulting in health problems like high blood pressure, ulcers, increased susceptibility to infections, muscle aches and pains, and heart disease.

Managing stress

It's impossible to completely avoid stress, but you can lessen its impact. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Develop good time management habits. Plan, set goals, make lists, break big jobs down, avoid distractions and take breaks. Don’t procrastinate, and don’t be a perfectionist. It’s important to keep the task in perspective.

  • Exercise is a terrific stress reducer. Set aside time every day to work off your stress.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Nutrition Services at UHS can help design an eating plan just for you; call (413) 577-5101 for an appointment.

  • Talk about what’s bothering you with a friend, family member or counselor. Call UHS’ Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, (413) 545-2337, for an appointment.

A Deep Breathing Exercise

Pay attention to your breathing. Notice how your abdomen and chest rise and fall with each other.

Place your hand on the part of your abdomen or chest that seems to rise and fall the most with each breath. If this spot is in your chest, you’re not using the lower part of your lungs.

Inhale, filling first the lower part of your lungs, then the middle part, then the upper part. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Exhale slowly. Relax your abdomen and chest.

Exhale through your mouth keeping your mouth, tongue and jaw relaxed. Relax as you focus on the sound and feeling of long, slow, deep breaths.