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Holidays may impact student stress levels

December 10, 2019

For some students, the holiday season means going home and spending time with family, while for others it means a stressful time that only begins with finals.

As the semester ends and projects start piling up, students find themselves trying to balance school work with their holiday to-do lists. Students begin to truly feel the pressure of finishing off strong while getting ready to pack up and go home. However, going home is not always a positive occurrence for all students. Sophomore

Janett Colon, a criminology major, explained this stress for many students: “Being a student this time of year is when you are getting down to the end, and finals and projects and the stress of getting stuff for the holidays and making plans are happening, family issues too. The holidays can be a sad time.”

Some students are missing out on traditions that they usually partake in leading up to the holidays, which could lead to a more stressful holiday season. Students mentioned more common traditions such as tree decorating and getting gifts, activities that may be more difficult if farther away from family this time of year. 

Alice Reilly-Myklebust, the Director of Student Health and Counseling Services, mentioned different impacts that traditions can have on college students and the importance of having them or not, “your family honors it, what makes being together special, children remember and may practice into adulthood.”

She continued to discuss that the case is different for each family. For some, the holidays might mean coming home to deal with alcoholism or drug addiction amongst family members. However, traditions amongst family is sometimes the hope that can bring the family together. 

One way to help cope with the stress of missing out on a yearly tradition is to develop a new one. “Skype while you get the tree so you are there, kind of! Skype during meals! It helps with being able to connect anywhere in the world,” said Reilly-Myklebust, “Be careful though, because that can make it harder.”

Finding that balance is important for college students. Start by simply looking out for others who may be struggling during this time. If a student sees another who might be having a hard time, for example, an international student, reaching out and making that connection can help others feel more at home during all of the festive celebrations. 

UW-River Falls also offers resources here on campus for those looking for a way to effectively deal with the stress as the semester comes to a close.

Alyssa Decorah, a fifth-year animal science major, said, “I use counseling and the lights in Hagstad to help cope with that stress.”

Health and Counseling Services encourages all students to simply come talk. If you are struggling with homesickness, upcoming holiday worries, or anything else causing stress for you, feel free to come talk with someone. Otherwise, with the few weeks left before everyone packs up to head home for the holidays, resources are waiting all over campus to assist in developing new traditions and making UWRF feel like a home away from home.