Choose healthy coping methods as finals approach
April 19, 2018
The end of the semester is beginning to draw near. Finals and projects are beginning to loom, and it is time for the Student Voice to write its compulsory, biannual editorial about how to not burn yourself out as things get crazy.
We’ve often written about some of the methods students can employ to keep themselves sane and healthy when school begins to look hopeless. One point we often bring up is the idea that people should “find time for themselves.” However, we feel that we need to clarify this point: “finding time for yourself” doesn’t necessarily mean doing whatever is the most fun. It means finding the time to figure out and give yourself what you need.
Our culture tends to encourage that people overwork themselves. We overcommit to things, stay up late trying to finish them and constantly feel stressed out because there seems to be no end to the things that need to get done.
Unfortunately, the socially accepted ways of coping with these stresses are just as unhealthy as the stress itself. Wisconsin in particular tends to encourage people to unwind by going out on the weekends and binge drinking. In the short term, it feels great – you forget about everything that’s weighing you down. When it’s over, however, you remember everything that needs to be done and realize that you’ve compounded your problems for the week ahead.
It isn’t just about drinking; putting off problems comes in all forms. Binge watching Netflix, for example, is an equally effective way to put off things you’d rather not think about. Unlike drinking, it tends to be a socially accepted practice, yet it often has the same effect – you use it as a crutch to put off your work, and as a result feel like your problems have only gotten bigger when you decide to get back to them.
There are things that you can do to relieve stress that don’t make you feel this way. One big one is having a healthy social life. Especially this time of year, many people try to cope with the overwhelming amounts of work they have to do by shutting themselves away from their friends so that they can get work done. It’s the polar opposite of putting off your responsibilities, but it can leave a person feeling equally burnt out and potentially lead to even unhealthier coping mechanisms.
A sense of social connection relieves a lot of stress. You can goof off for a bit without worrying about your looming assignments while at the same time be exposed to other people who are going through the same things. In the end, you might feel inspired to get your own work done afterward or at the very least find emotional support since everyone’s going through the same struggle.
Bar crawl is this weekend in River Falls, which is always one of the biggest days for drinking throughout the city. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to connect with people you haven’t seen in a long time, and this can be good for your mental health if you’re doing it for the right reasons. However, if your only intention is to drown away the looming finals stress, maybe reconsider.