Week 4: Annotation and Managing Stress

This week you will practice active reading, as well as learn how to annotate (take notes as you read) a text. This is an important skill for both understanding what you read, and for learning. You’ll practice annotating on a reading about how to manage stress, which can help you live longer and better.

Assignment One – Watch this Youtube video on annotation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Mz4nwciWc&feature=emb_title

Assignment Two – Active Reading and Annotating

Now read and annotate the following essay. Note that I give NO credit for simply highlighting or underlining. You must circle important words and write short summaries of the ideas in the margins to earn credit for the assignment. Submit a copy of your annotations, along with the list described below.

Stress and Self Care

The number of students in higher education who have emotional health problems is steadily increasing (Duenwald 2004). According to the American College Health Association (2008), 31 percent of college students report that they have felt so depressed that it was difficult to function. Almost half of students say that they’ve felt overwhelming anxiety, and 60 percent report that they’ve felt very lonely.

Dealing with Stress

Japanese psychiatrist Morita Masatake, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, based his whole approach to treatment on this insight: We can face our emotional pain directly and still take constructive action. One of Masatake’s favorite suggestions for people who felt depressed was that they tend a garden (Reynolds 1995, 98).

It’s easy to feel stressed if you dwell on how much you have to accomplish this year, this term, this month, or even this week. Focus on one task at a time.

Remember that an effective plan for the day does two things. First, it clarifies what you’re choosing not to do today. (Tasks that you plan to do in the future are listed on your calendar or to-do list.) Second, it reduces your day to a series of concrete tasks—such as making phone calls, going to classes, running errands, or reading chapters—that you can do one at a time.

If you feel overwhelmed, just find the highest-priority task on your to-do list. Do it with total attention until it’s done. Then go back to your list for the next high-priority task. Do it with total attention. Savor the feeling of mastery and control that comes with crossing each task off your list.

Don’t believe everything you think. According to Albert Ellis and other cognitive psychologists, stress results not from events in our lives but from the way we think about those events. If we believe that people should always behave in exactly the way we expect them to, for instance, we set ourselves up for misery. The same happens if we believe that events should always turn out exactly as we want. There are two main ways to deal with such thoughts:

Don’t believe them. Dispute such thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones: I can control my own behavior but not the behavior of others, and Some events are beyond my control. Changing our beliefs can reduce our stress significantly.

Release stress-producing thoughts without disputing them. Mindfulness meditation is a way to do this. While meditating, you simply notice your thoughts as they arise and pass. Instead of reacting to them, you observe them. Eventually, your stream of thinking slows down. You might enter a state of deep relaxation that also yields life-changing insights.

Many religious organizations offer meditation classes. You can also find meditation instruction through health maintenance organizations, YMCAs or YWCAs, and community education programs.

Dealing with Emotional Pain

Remember that emotional pain is not a sickness. Emotional pain has gotten a bad name. This reputation is undeserved. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad. It’s okay to feel miserable, depressed, sad, upset, angry, dejected, gloomy, or unhappy.

It might not be pleasant to feel bad, but it can be good for you. Often, bad is an appropriate way to feel. When you leave a place you love, sadness is natural. When you lose a friend or lover, misery might be in order. When someone treats you badly, it is probably appropriate to feel angry. When a loved one dies, it is necessary to grieve. The grief might appear in the form of depression, sadness, or anger.

There is nothing wrong with extreme emotional pain. If depression, sadness, or anger persists, then get help. Otherwise, allow yourself to experience these emotions. They’re often appropriate.

Sometimes, we allow ourselves to feel bad only if we have a good reason. For example: “Well, I feel very sad, but that is because I just found out my best friend is moving to Europe.” It’s all right to know the reason why you are sad. It’s also fine not to know. You can feel bad for no apparent reason. The reason doesn’t matter. Because you cannot directly control any feeling, simply accept it.

There’s no way to predict how long emotional pain will last. The main point is that it does not last forever. There’s no need to let a broken heart stop your life. Although you can find abundant advice on the subject, just remember a simple and powerful idea: This too shall pass.

Choosing to Rest

A lack of rest can decrease your immunity to illness and impair your performance in school. You still might be tempted to cut back drastically on your sleep once in a while for an all-night study session, but depriving yourself of sleep is a choice you can avoid.

If you have trouble falling asleep, experiment with the following suggestions:

  • Exercise daily. For many people, regular exercise promotes sounder sleep. However, finish exercising several hours before you want to go to sleep.
  • Avoid naps during the daytime.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Avoid using alcohol to feel sleepy. Drinking alcohol late in the evening can disrupt your sleep during the night.
  • Develop a sleep ritual—a regular sequence of calming activities that end your day. You might take a warm bath and do some light reading. Turn off the TV and computer at least 1 hour before you go to bed.
  • Keep your sleeping room cool.
  • Keep a regular schedule for going to sleep and waking up.
  • Sleep in the same place each night. When you’re there, your body gets the message that it’s time to go to sleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques while lying in bed. A simple one is to count your breaths and release distracting thoughts as they arise.
  • Make tomorrow’s to-do list before you go to sleep so that you won’t lie there worrying that tomorrow you’ll forget about something you need to do.
  • Get up and study or do something else until you’re tired.
  • See a doctor if sleeplessness persists.

Finding Resources

Mt. Hood Community College has an excellent Career Planning and Counseling Center (CPCC) staffed with both male and female professionals who are available on campus every weekday. The CPCC is the go-to site for students seeking personal counseling services and referrals on concerns related to depression, anxiety, suicide, stress management, eating disorders, and addiction. They are located on the ground level in AC1152. Their email address is mhcareer@mhcc.edu, and their phone number is 503-491-7342. For urgent or crisis response, you can also call Public Safety at 503-491-7911 or call 911. You can also start with a personal physician—one person who can coordinate all of your health care. A personal physician can refer you to another health professional if it seems appropriate. These two suggestions can also work after you graduate. Promoting emotional health is a skill to use for the rest of your life.

Remember that suicide is no solution. While entering higher education, people typically go through major change. For some people, this involves depression and anxiety. Both are risk factors for suicide—the second leading cause of death on college campuses (Schaffer, Jeglic, and Stanley 2008).

Most often, suicide can be prevented. If you suspect that someone you know is considering suicide, do the following:

  • Take it seriously. Taking suicidal comments seriously is especially important when you hear them from young adults.
  • Listen fully. Encourage the person at risk to express thoughts and feelings appropriately. If he claims that he doesn’t want to talk, be inviting, be assertive, and be persistent. Be totally committed to listening.
  • Speak powerfully. Let the person at risk know that you care. Trying to talk someone out of suicide or minimizing problems is generally useless. Acknowledge that problems are serious, but they can be solved. Point out that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
  • Get professional help. Suggest that the person see a mental health professional. If she resists help, offer to schedule the appointment for her and to take her to it.
  • Remove access to firearms. Most suicides are attempted with guns. Get rid of any guns that might be around. Also remove all drugs and razors.
  • Handle the event as an emergency. If a situation becomes a crisis, do not leave the person alone. Call a crisis hotline, 911, or a social service agency. If necessary, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room, clinic, or police station.

If you ever begin to think about committing suicide, seek out someone you trust. Tell this person how you feel. If necessary, make an appointment to see a counselor, and ask someone to accompany you. When you’re at risk, you deserve the same compassion that you’d willingly extend to another person.

Find out more from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255 or www.afsp.org. Another excellent resource is the It Gets Better Project at www.itgetsbetter.org.



Now, rate your current stress level using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as not stressed and 10 as extremely stressed. Type a list of three suggestion from the Stress and Self-Care reading that you already use or that you feel will work for you.

Assignment Three & Four

Personal Dictionary Word #3

Latin Roots Quiz #3

Latin Roots English Words
ambi both ambidextrous, ambivalent, ambiguous
mal bad malnutrition, malaria, maladaptive
con together contact, concoct, concert
ad- toward adhere, admit, addition
dia- through diagram, diameter, dialysis
sur- above surface, surperior, sirloin
luna moon lunatic, lunar, lunacy


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Developing Reading Skills by Grace Richardson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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