Dealing with studies and stress
May 17, 2010 6:47 PM
At finals time, SF State students divide into two groups: those who can handle stress and those who let stress handle them.
School related stress affects students most when the amount of work they face causes them to sacrifice those activities which give their lives balance, said Aja Bazin, a 22-year-old SF State senior.
"That loss of balance starts to tackle your emotional and mental feelings and that's when you start to crumble," Bazin said.
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with stress, said Albert Angelo, a SF State health educator.
"A lot of times what students are struggling with is a lot of change," Angelo said. "And a lot of students are on their own in terms of having to deal with it."
According to Angelo, some common unhealthy ways students cope with stress are eating fatty foods, smoking, taking drugs (especially marijuana) and drinking. All-night cram sessions and energy drinks have long been a common route students take when facing last minute pressure.
"Last week, I had an essay that was due that I waited until completely the night before and they gave it to us two months ago," said Alexandra Alvarez. Alvarez, 20, said she used SparkNotes, while taking a three hour nap in the middle of the night to finally finish.
"Just stupid, coffee and waking up early," Alvarez said.
Many SF State students have trouble finding a quiet place to study where they live. Alvarez said she chooses to study outside her house where there are less distractions.
"Roommates and TV.... I just need to close everything off and be somewhere where I'm just focused on one thing," she said.
Taking breaks, exercising and talking with friends or in counseling are healthy ways students can cope with stress, according to Angelo.
Guillermo Turcios, 20, works at SF State's tutoring center and has developed healthy ways to deal with the stress of being an English Literature major with a lot of assigned reading.
"If I have a class I'm not doing that good in, I'll emphasize that more than my other classes," said Turcios, who said he helps students prioritize their workload at the tutoring center. "You've got to practice what you preach," he laughed.
Angelo, 47, has been a counselor at SF State for 17 years. At school, he guides students through health promotion workshops and individually counsels those facing stress. Angelo's workshops draw on average between 50 to 70 students, depending on how many attend for extra credit in their classes.
"I think a big part of coping with stress is having a supporting community that is warm and open and can accept you, whether you're stressed or not," said Katie Herron, a volunteer at the Holistic Health Center. "One that is there to support you physically and emotionally, and we've got that here."
The Holistic Health Center offers massages by donation every Tuesday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. On average, five volunteers provide visitors 10-20 minute massages, according to Herron.
"Being a student is a very stressful occupation," Herron said. "And the Holistic Health Center, for the most part, welcomes a nice escape from that."
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