Managing Stress

Finals are right around the corner, so we asked our friend Dr. Minji Yang to share some tips to help us better manage stress during these busy times.

Dr. Minji Yang is a counselor faculty at SJSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). She was an international undergraduate and graduate student from South Korea and is currently an international professional. Minji specializes in working with international students, racial minority students, and students from immigrant families and on issues such as stress, cultural adjustment, identity development, perfectionism, anxiety, depression, and parental neglect and abuse. She is also the Training Coordinator for CAPS’ nationally accredited Health Psychology Doctoral Internship Program.

Here is what she shared with us:

1. What is stress?

Stress is when something happens and your mind/body have a hard time handling the external event. You get ‘stressed out’ in a negative way when your mind/body don’t have enough internal resources to handle the stressful event. There are various types of stressors such as: academic, financial, immigration, work, career, relationship, sociopolitical, pandemic and other-related stressors. It’s been a hard year as we all know and a very challenging year for international students. So please be mindful of different types of stress that you experience and take time to manage them.

2.  What does stress do to you?

Stress may:

    • affect concentration and sleep
    • cause eating difficulties, digestive problems, body tension, and headaches
    • bring on anxiety and depression
    • make you feel overwhelmed
    • spark negative thoughts
    • make you feel un-motivated or have low energy
    • make you more irritable
    • cause relationship difficulties

3. What can I do to manage stress?

    • Measure your stress level (1-10). Notice when your stress level is increasing and identify what is making you stressed out.
    • Think of what activities help you to feel better and make a list of these. Be intentional about what you choose to do.
    • Doing things to relieve stress does not mean that you are being lazy. Actively taking steps to manage your stress is being smart about your health.
    • Get support. Surround yourself with people that you feel comfortable with and cared for by. Make an effort to keep in touch with them even through chat or video calls.
    • Exercise, eat well, and sleep well! The basics are essential especially in times when you are undergoing stress.
    • Do things that soothe you, such as meditation. There are several meditation resources you can find online that will help you learn how to tell your mind to relax:
    • Engage in positive thinking. Negative thoughts weigh more than positive thoughts. Let the negative thoughts occur, but give some room for positive thoughts too! Take time to practice positive thinking and let it sink in.
    • Be kind to yourself. Notice when you are being critical of yourself and try to be compassionate to yourself. It’s been hard enough this year!
    • Take small steps to do the above. Don’t stress yourself out more by adding more work on your plate!

4. Please know that CAPS is available for you!

We are all working remotely but have several workshops, groups, individual mental health counseling, and educational counseling. Check out our website: and follow us on Instagram (@sjsucaps).

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Thank you for sharing your tips with us, Minji! ISSS also partners with Minji each semester to do a series of De-Stress for Academic Success events. This semester, we’re all virtual. Follow us on Instagram at @SJSUinternational to learn new tips every day during finals week, and check out our web page for more resources.

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