Finals weeks is coming…don’t let stress come with it

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Finals week is approaching on college campuses across the country as the fall semester comes to a close. Stress is tangible in libraries and students centers as anxiety levels reach an all-time high for many college students.

If you’re in the midst of finals week or bracing yourself for the storm of work to come, here are a few tips to keep you on track:

Get Organized

According to About Education, making a list of daily tasks can help reduce stress during a busy period, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Writing down every task you have to do can give you a sense of accomplishment as you check off each completed activity.

Get enough sleep

Although pulling an all-nighter can be tempting, getting enough sleep is essential to optimal brain function and memory storage. According to University of California, San Diego News, sleep deprivation is a major health issue plaguing college students due to factors like anxiety and high caffeine consumption. They recommend avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages before bed.

Get off social media

Social media platforms can suck students into hours of distraction. The best method for finals week may be to (temporarily) delete your social media apps or make a conscious effort to avoid them. An article from TIME Magazine suggests checking them in moderation as a reward, “Check in on your favorite platforms or websites for 10 to 15 minutes before going to bed or during your downtime.”

Give yourself a break!

Allow yourself to take breaks between long periods of study to avoid becoming overwhelmed. USA Today recommends  carving some time for yourself each day, “Take a nap, call a friend, go for a walk, take a fitness class, meditate-whatever you need to do to take a mental break and recharge before you plow through the next stack of books and notes.”

Relax, you’ve got this!

College Domestic Abuse Issues Matter

fullsizerender-3
Photo by Christie Macomber

October is national Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Domestic abuse in college relationships has an often-unspoken presence. Every year, thousands of sexual assaults and instances of violence go unreported on college campuses. Statistically, college-age girls are the ones who should be talking about this issue the most, according to Feminist Campus, “young women between the ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of partner violence and it’s almost triple the national average.”

So, why is there such a lack of visible resources and outlets available at many universities? Dana Bolger, co-founder of activist group Know Your IX, believes it is because colleges don’t know enough about the issue or a plan of remedy. “Schools are totally lost on how to respond to violence when it occurs in the context of a dating relationship,” she said in an interview with Buzzfeed.

A major issue with how colleges handle issues of sexual assault and domestic violence is in how they administer (or choose not to administer) punishments. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz explained to Buzzfeed that by relying on university conduct policies instead of reporting the abuses to actual courts, there is an ignorance of true justice for victims, “Universities have proved beyond any doubt their incapacity and ineptitude in dealing with nuanced, fact-based accusations.”

Know your rights:

Title IX: Title IX requires universities to combat gender-based violence and harassment, and ensure victims’ needs are met. It also compels universities to ensure equal educational rights to all students.

The Clercy Act: According to Know Your IX, as of Oct. 1, 2014, universities are required to make the following statistics public: reports of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.

If you are a victim of sexual or domestic assault and your school has not responded to your needs, you can file a Title IX complaint against your university’s policies with the U.S. Department of Education. 

 

Feeling stressed? The answer might be fresh air.

Midterms week getting the best of you? According to the 2015 American College Health a association report, 85 percent of college students said they had experienced feelings of being overwhelmed by course loads within the last year. However, the answer to boosting your energy and productivity may not be the old coffee standby–it might be as simple as fresh air.

Going outside everyday can boost energy levels by as much as 90 percent, according to the Journal of Environmental Psychology. It’s 2010 study of the effects of nature in physical and emotional response found that spending some time in nature each day is, “linked to specific configuration of brain activation and positive stress response mechanisms.”

According to an article by the Huffington Post, a Kyoto University study actually revealed a correlation between the scent of pine trees and decreased feeling of anxiety and depression in test subjects.

This is especially important for student on urban campuses to keep in mind, as high concentrations of air pollution can take a physical toll. 

This week, I tested out this “fresh air theory” and took a walk in beautiful Boston. Check out some of my fall finds in the gallery above.

Mental Health: When Students Speak and Schools Stay Silent

This week, my public relations professor described Northeastern, and all universities, as essentially a consumer product trying to market itself to potential students, donors and developers. On the course to attaining a higher national ranking and reputation, some university PR teams attempt to downplay more controversial issues and stories. What issues are among the most concerning for PR teams of urban colleges? Campus fatalities. But even more stigmatized than simply ‘student death?’ Student suicide.

This really struck me. How can we move towards resolving major issues related to suicide and mental health if we are hesitant to make them public?

In a July 2015 article, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education echoed the idea that by not talking about mental health issues on campus, universities are actually fueling the stigma behind it, “Understanding how colleges both intentionally and unintentionally limit dialogue about mental health is a critical first step to combating the trend of silencing sufferers of mental illnesses.”

Northeastern students have been vocal regarding the lack of mental health resources available to students and their concern over the stigmatization of mental health disorders. Rowan Walrath’s March 2016 article, featured in the student-run Huntington News, outlined the struggle that many NU students know too well when it comes to University Health Services. The article analogized the story of “Brian,” who found his roommate dead in their dorm from a suicide. After experiencing symptoms of PTSD, Brian tried unsucessfully for six weeks to schedule an appointment to meet with a university therapist before he gave up.

In April Northeastern University students held a university-wide rally with the tagline #DoBetterNU. The campaign was aimed at encouraging discussion related to a lack of student and faculty diversity, the marginalization of minority students and a call for access to better mental health services at University Health and Counseling Services. Students compiled their list of demands, to which university has not publicly responded. Students are calling for action, they are calling for a real conversation about mental health resources. So, why has the university seemed reluctant to engage?

According to Walrath’s article, Brian’s case is not unique, nor is this problem unique to Northeastern. In an interview with Huntington News, licensed NJ psychologist Jeffrey Axelbank explained that campus health service centers are overwhelmed by demand, “You’ll go […] and there’ll be a three-week or six-week waiting period, and by that time, the semester’s over. That’s a national problem.”

If an estimated one in six college students suffers from anxiety (translating to roughly 2,800 out of Northeastern’s student body), why is it something that university administration rarely talks about? How emotionally safe are students in an environment where issues of mental health are generally not discussed or even seemingly ignored?

When two Northeastern students died tragically in an overseas car accident last March, Northeastern responded by holding a very public memorial service to commemorate the girls’ lives. However, last year there were also at least two reported Northeastern student suicides, neither of which received a memorial service from Northeastern or significant university recognition other than emails confirming their deaths. Assigning and differentiating the value of a student life or the degree of valor in his or her death is what contributes to the mental health disorder stigma and simply rules out the dialogue before it begins.