CSU professionals advise preserving mental health in midterm season

Laura Studley

Midterm season is here Rams. Mental health has fallen to the wayside, and taking its place are sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety and depression.

The academic calendar gives rise to student stress as they navigate through countless study guides, flashcards and powerpoints when each new testing season ensues.

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“Stress and anxiety are the top two factors who negatively impact academics,” said Janelle Patrias, manager of mental health initiatives. “It has this cycle where students are stressed by their academics, that’s their primary stressor but then when they feel this exacerbated stress it actually limits their success in the classroom… It makes perfect sense that your stressor is academics.”

Combining stress from multiple facets including school, work and private life bring challenges that students must face daily. These obstacles add to the present stress and anxiety of their upcoming tests.

Patrias said engaging in self-care is necessary to continue being successful during midterm season. Often, students don’t take the time to stop and relax with the late night study sessions and coffee keeping them awake.

“Sometimes people will throw themselves into studying all day long, and our brains need a break to rejuvenate,” Patrias said. “Give yourself a break to do something. Whether that’s watching something, or preferably getting outside and getting a little dose of nature, even just taking a walk around your residence hall a couple times could be good ways to manage stress.”

For students to maximize success in their academic careers, there are basic needs that need to be met first in order to have high success and motivation.

Mekdelawit Desta, learning program coordinator for The Institute for Learning and Teaching, said that food, sleep and rest are the three things that are imperative for student achievement. If a student does not meet these basic requirements, it impacts the student physically and mentally, jeopardizing their success.

“You need a balance,” Desta said. “School is not supposed to be everything. . . . Work is not supposed to be everything or socializing is not supposed to be everything. In life, one of the things you need to learn is balancing yourself so then you’re not feeling all this pressure.”

Both Patrias and Desta put a strong emphasis on the importance of sleep during this time of high stress. Desta said research has shown that if an individual is not getting enough sleep, their stress level increases.

“For a long time we used to think that depression and anxiety caused poor sleep,” Patrias said. “Now we really realize it’s bi-directional, so having poor sleep is actually precipitating and worsening stress and anxiety.”

To learn about more mental health initiatives visit the CSU Health Network website. For more about workshops regarding test anxiety, stress management and other health preventions, visit the TILT website.

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Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_.