By Nick Hofmeister
Staff reporter

Days grow shorter. Cold weather keeps people from spending as much time outdoors. More people get sick than any other time of year. All of this happens when students need to be the most focused—the second half of the semester and finals week.

When the stress gets to be too much, if a student needs someone to talk to, many people are willing to listen and confidentially talk with the individual. There are people in housing and student life who care. “If you don’t want to talk to your friends or your coach, you have RA’s you can talk to,” said Dan Falk, dean of students. “All of us are available to talk to, and it’s always confidential. Maybe we can get you off campus and get you something to eat or something fun like that.”

If students prefer a different approach to dealing with the stress of schoolwork, the college also employs a licensed masters social worker. Mary Ann Smith, wellness coordinator, is available for students. Meeting with the wellness coordinator is a free service provided by the college.

Sarah Hallinan, assistant dean of students said, “She’s really good too because, beyond talking to somebody, she’ll give you homework like ‘these are things you can do to get you out of that mood,’ or ‘here are some things you can do to stay productive.’ She gives you actual tools you can use beyond just visiting with her, things you can do on your own as well.”

Students should also try to keep themselves busy.

“It’s important to try and stay active in the winter months,” said Falk. “Do things where you’re with groups and you’re having fun.”

Lai-L Clemons, director of campus life and international student advisor said, “We have quite a few activities coming up. We have SC Christmas. We’ll also have one movie night in November and one movie night in December.”

Going to activities and doing things with friends can help people stay happy. Students who are trying to stay on top of everything need to be aware that staying happy and positive doesn’t just happen on its own. “I think that students have to make an effort themselves,” said Clemons. “One thing I always tell students to do is to get out and exercise. Go on a walk. Go on a run. Just do something to keep your energy up.”

Activities don’t necessarily have to be structured. Winter activities, such as sledding or ice skating can be a good way to blow off stress as well. Although sledding isn’t allowed on campus, students can sled down the hill by the water tower at Jaycee’s Park. Falk said, “One year we went to the sporting goods store and bought a four-man raft, blew it up and we took turns sledding in a four-man raft. That was pretty fun.”

Hallinan said, “A good stress reliever can be as simple as taking the time to be a kid again. Go sledding, build a snowman, decorate for the holidays.”

No matter how busy students get, they should try to make time for their friends. The end of the semester is a stressful time and it can be more stressful when you’re alone. “When you’re by yourself, you’re just gonna get in a funk,” said Falk.

Nick Hofmeister is a junior majoring in new media. You may e-mail him at nick.hofmeister@sckans.edu.