Take a deep breath, the semester is almost over

Exams start next week and students are feeling the pressure. Stress is a natural response to all the challenges people experience in life.

Students constantly worry about school, work, life and their financial status. It seems almost impossible to manage everything and maintain good night’s sleep, healthy diet and a social life. Time is insufficient for all the commitments.

Richland offers support for students to keep them from having a meltdown. Licensed Professional Counselor Farah Gilani said that the best way to manage stress is “coming up with a list of everything that you need to do and try to focus on what you need to do today. So, instead of trying to focus on things that you need to do two or three weeks from now, just try to focus on today and get done what absolutely needs to get done today.”

Final exams sometimes make students overlook their essential needs. According to Gilani, the most important thing is to take care of yourself.

“Students will try to stay up all night studying and then take an exam with only two or three hours of sleep and that doesn’t keep your mind sharp; doesn’t give you energy,” Gilani said. “Even if you know the material, you really won’t recall it if your brain hasn’t had an opportunity to shut down.”

Evan Smits, nursing student, said, “People go through a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and pretty much to keep [up their] expectations of themselves or whatever society asks them to have, GPA, school and etc.”

Smits said he has seen a lot of students, including himself and his friends, give their best. They would rather study instead of eating or sleeping. He said he deals with stress in different ways.

“I listen to a lot of music. Friends are always a good, great way to release the stress; hanging out, talking out your problems with people. It’s a really great way just to release.”

Adjunct Faculty Physical Health & Education professor Andrea Stewart said that people are different and have their own way to relieve tension.

“We can find relief mentally or physically. A combination of the two is ideal,” she said

Stewart said that the physical fitness movement has proven to help relieve anxiety. There are different kinds of activities that students can do; kickboxing for those who need a hard physical workout, dance or meditation for a low impact workout.

For those who are just starting to exercise she recommends, “Start off slow. No matter what the exercise is don’t go full force, even when you think it’s something like yoga class because it can be intense.”

It’s important for students who hope to find a way to relieve stress through physical activity to find something they enjoy doing.  She added “Find something that you like. Don’t commit to something you hate doing, because guess what, you will never keep it up. You won’t do it. And you won’t find any pleasure from it.”

For those who are not really into intense physical activity there are other options.

Stewart said, “Go for a light, little jog for 15 minutes, walk with a friend and just talk. Talk about things that don’t even matter, tell jokes with each other. Some people might even want to go in the kitchen and cook something.”

The important part is to get distracted, practice mindfulness, meditate, pray, take a break and breathe.

“Be creative, sit there and draw or color. Do something to take your mind off what is causing you the stress,” said Stewart.