By Maggie Dunning
Stress. Anticipating spending time at home with family, finishing the fall semester and getting a strong start on the spring semester bring stress.
Ashlee Alley, director of campus ministry, said, “We have a lot of stressors during this time.”
Communication is key to relieving stress over family life and stress about school.
Dan Falk, dean of students, said, “Just communicate and be honest about what you’re feeling and how you’re feeling, because if you’re not being honest with yourself or honest with your family about what’s going on, you’re going to kind of get yourself in a bind in a year or two.”
Carrie Lane, associate professor of psychology, has some advice to give to students to help their friends.
She said, “You can also you can be the person to provide them with strategies like things that they might not have thought of. ‘Well you could just study this night this night and this night.’ or ‘Hey if your mom is really irritating you why don’t you come over to my house and we’ll watch movies.’ Be an outlet.”
Physical health is an important indicator of stress.
Alley said, “Often January and December are times when sickness is happening and going around. Late nights and early morning, those kinds of things just don’t bode well for staying healthy.”
Lane said, “If your immune system is weak enough that you’re starting to get sick. It’s usually a sign that you are way too stressed out.”
Alley said “When people are under stress I think it’s really important to make some good healthy choices.”
Lane said “There is a research study that found that freshman who wrote down every day what they did that day, had fewer illnesses than students who didn’t journal.”
Some students don’t realize when they are under stress. When that it is the case seeing warning signs is a good habit to get into to.
There are common warning signs students exhibit during times of stress.
Alley said, “I think that exhaustion is a pretty good indicator. Just when everything takes so much energy can be a really important warning sign to pay attention to.”
Falk said, “Avoidance is a big one.” Students tend to avoid a staff member or a faculty member who is trying to reach out. “They are kind of avoiding because they don’t want to talk or communicate their issues.”
Being home for three weeks can lead to stress..
Falk said, “I think they feel a sense of family. They’ve been away from their family for a couple of months. They may have gotten to see their family for a little while during Thanksgiving, but now they get to really go home.”
Alley said, “I think that college is a really important time because you learn who you are in a family in a different way.”
“I just encourage people to recognize that their role may change and then to just be open and honest with their parents about how they see that role changing,” said Alley.
Finally, anticipating the new semester can lead to stress.
Alley said, “A new semester is kind of like a do-over and a clean slate. I just encourage people to take stock of where they are and what choices they want to make and decide what healthy choices look like.”
“Even if they can’t completely change some of the things that are stressful in their lives they can make a few good steps in the right direction. I think that’s really important,” said Alley.
Lane said, “I think that one of the best things to do is to have a strategy for time management.”
“Come ready with a plan and not just a plan for when to study but when to have fun ,when to just take a break, and take time for yourself,” said Lane.
Falk said, “You need to realize you need to really rely on your experience from the fall and learn what works and what doesn’t work as far as school work goes.”
“You should be more familiar with kind of the flow of classes and what you do in the down time between classes. You know your professors a little bit better. I really think it’s more about what are you going to do differently to be more successful.”
Maggie Dunning is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.