How to Stress Less: An interview with Maria Pascucci of

Unconscious Bias

campuscalm_com_refl.jpgI’m happy to announce that I’ve just signed on as a “networking expert” with Campus Calm, a website that promises to help college students manage their stress and personal well-being. The site was founded by Maria Pascucci, a reformed “stressaholic and perfectionist,” who had the brilliant idea to provide a forum and tools for college students dealing with stress.

Check out my interview with Maria to learn more about Campus Calm and how it can help you:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Campus Calm?

Maria: In 2001, I graduated summa cum laude from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. I had a double major, two minors and I worked both on and off campus. My resume was perfect, but I was a wreck. I was burnt out, battling anxiety induced health problems and a paralyzing uncertainty about my future. During my last final exam, I ran out of the classroom when my professor started handing out exam booklets, bolted for the nearest bathroom, locked myself in a stall and, for the first time in my life, had a full-blown panic attack.

Through counseling and soul-searching after graduation, I ditched my inner perfectionist. Now I’m on a mission: To spread a dose of “Campus Calm” to stressed-out students and recent college graduates world-wide so you don’t have to suffer needlessly like I did.

Q: You talk about being a “stressaholic” in college. I can relate. How can you tell if you’re a stressaholic – what are the symptoms?

Maria: Based on my personal experience:

• Change in sleep patterns (too much sleep or too little sleep)
• Change in eating habits (either too much or too little)
• Becoming angry over “nothing” or crying very easily
• Frequent stomachaches, headaches, skin breaking out
• Constant negative self-thoughts and worry over everyday things
• Withdrawing from friends and loved ones.

Q: What are some steps a stressaholic can take to live a calmer existence?

Maria: Here are a few suggestions:

• Avoid catastrophic thinking and correct with rational thoughts. “Oh my God, I got a C on my quiz, I’m not going to graduate with honors, I’m not going to get into grad school, I’m not going to find a good job, I’m not going to be successful, I’m going to live with my parents forever and eat Ramen Noodles in the basement.” Sound familiar? Stop!

• Listen to your body’s cues. I was recently working way too hard and stressing out. I had trouble sleeping, my skin broke out and I wanted to punch a wall. How’s that for some campus calm? So I slowed down, made sure I made enough time to sleep eight hours that week and I loaded up on nutrient-rich foods, herbal teas and juices. I definitely felt better within days … and my skin cleared up too!

• Develop resilience. Read books like The Resiliency Advantage and The Power of Failure.

• Practice gratitude. From one high achiever to another, good health is an achievement to be VERY proud of.

Q: Share some scary stats with us about the dangers of stress.

Maria: In an article published on, Herbert Benson, MD, founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, said that chronic stress can lead to the following stress-related symptoms:

* Anxiety
* Depression
* Excessive anger and hostility
* Hypertension (high blood pressure)
* Insomnia
* Heart irregularities
* Recently it has been demonstrated that stress is a risk factor for heart attacks

And there are a number of gender issues directly related to stress.

* In men: decreased sperm count, decreased sexual performance
* In women: PMS, infertility, and menopausal hot flashes made worse by stress

Q: Those are scary! Calm us down–tell us about your forthcoming book!

Maria: I’m very excited to be releasing my first book for back-to-school 2008. It’s called Campus Calm University: The college student’s 10-step blueprint to stop stressing and create your happy, purpose-driven life. If you’d like to learn more about my book, I invite you to check out and sign up for our free Stress-Less kit, which includes an excerpt from my book. You will also receive a free subscription to Campus Calm Connections, our weekly e-newsletter.

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