School can be stressful all year long, but with finals only 17 days away and spring fever hanging in the air, the stress of finishing off the school year can be overwhelming, says Stress Management Counselor Rob Sepich.
“We are usually pretty busy all year long,” Sepich said. “But the number of students seeking counseling has definitely been higher these past few weeks.”
Among the many stressors students report having, Sepich said that academics, relationships and financial troubles are the most frequently discussed. Sepich said the state of our country may also have an impact on stress levels.
“Even though students may not be dealing with it consciously, I think it probably increases their general stress levels,” Sepich said. “Students are so busy that they don’t have enough time to deal with world events.”
UW sophomore Ilana Schuman-Stoler, said that she definitely felt added stress from the war.
“It made me feel like embracing the things that I would normally put off,” Stoler said. “I feel more stressed about social and international policy than the war itself. The war has just made me more aware of all the injustices that are occurring in the world.”
Changes in weather may also have an impact on stress levels, UW Psychology Professor Jeffery B. Henriques said. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a sub-type of depression thought to be linked with melatonin levels in the brain. Recent studies of Seasonal Affective Disorder show direct sunlight exposure is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and general well being.
One in ten adults is thought to be afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder, Sepich said.
While spring break may have brought some sunlight and relaxation to many students, Bob McGrath, UW Health systems director of counseling, said vacations can be very stressful.
“Stress is related to transitions so vacations can be very stressful,” McGrath said. “Spring break can be more challenging than a week of school.”
Sepich said with only a few weeks left after spring break, many students feel overwhelmed with the work that piles up while they are gone.
“Students must try to distinguish what they can and can’t control,” Sepich said. “It’s impossible to think that a semester’s worth of procrastination can be made up in a few weeks. You have to focus on what’s modifiable.”
According to McGrath, the increase in students seeking counseling before finals is common in both the fall and spring semesters.
“Stressors are different for both semesters,” McGrath said. “Thanksgiving break may not be as stressful as spring break, but students seem to panic before finals regardless.”
Sepich said that while stress is a natural part of life, if it begins to compromise a person’s ability to perform, then it is time to seek help. Sepich suggests simply opening your eyes when walking to class and enjoying the changes in nature can be therapeutic.
To set up an appointment with a UW Health counselor call 265-5600.