Finals – the ultimate stress test

Dolores Garza

Assignments overflowing, finals approaching and grades becoming a priority tie into the end of the semester, leaving students overwhelmed.

Del Mar College counselor Rita Hernandez said the Counseling Center can help students deal with stress, anxiety, depression and more.

“In the most stressful times, especially with finals coming up, remember to breathe,” Hernandez said. “Whenever we are facing a challenge we tend to hold our breath until we take that plunge so be deliberate with your breathing.”

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), 60 percent of all human illness and disease is caused by stress. Three out of 4 doctor visits are for stress-related reasons. Stress increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke; therefore, it is important to know the signs of extreme stress.

“It’s different for everyone,” Hernandez said. “Some students might catch a cold, they might get a cold sore, they might start experiencing fatigue, while other students might have restlessness or not being able to sleep at night, and there are some folks who are stress-eaters; I’m one myself.”

About 40 percent of people overeat or eat unhealthy foods, according to the AIS, and 44 percent of people lose sleep every night.

Often, people take on more than they can handle, which can trigger stress.

“Stress can be triggered by taking on more than the day allows,” Hernandez said. “There are plenty of students who have been able to take a full load and have a full-time job and raise a family but it’s important that if you plan to do all of those things that you’ve got a good stress management.”

Hernandez also said students should have a good support system.

“Typically you have your obligations to pay rent, to pay your bills, and to feed yourself so that can’t be cut out because that’s essential to surviving.” Hernandez said. “A lot of times the only thing that can give are our relationships with people or school … so if stress becomes so overwhelming, relationships, those extracurricular things, and even school sort of is the casualty.”

Keeping a list of your priorities and staying on top of all tasks are just a few ways to manage or reduce stress.

“Exercise is really great, even just walking, that’s usually not a problem with parking and drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated will reduce headaches,” Hernandez said. “Most adults are deficient in Vitamin D because we don’t play outside the way children do so getting a little bit of Vitamin D can be helpful as well.”

Counselors encourage students to attend counseling when things become difficult as even the smallest amount of stress can lead to extreme situations.

Mark Young, president of Safe Space, put together the LGBT club at Del Mar to help students feel like they can be themselves.

“It’s a place where it doesn’t matter who you are and this falls in line with an environment of dealing with stress or anxiety,” Young said.

The Safe Space club has planned an event for May 2 to attend counseling as they deal with stress.

“The week of finals is very stressful,” Young said. “I myself am very stressed and I think everyone just wants time to breathe for a second so I thought of the idea of planning this with the Counseling Center so people can breathe and relax just for second.”

The Counseling Center provides a quiet area known as the Zen Zone for students to work in or even just to relax with massage chairs, soft music and soft lighting.

The library is another place available for students on both East Campus and West Campus to get their work done. Because of a smaller staff, they will not be extending their hours for finals.

Del Mar College provides much support for students and encourages them to take advantage of it if they need help.

“On campus, you’ve got personal support through counseling, you’ve got academic support through faculty and tutoring, you’ve got social support through clubs and organizations,” Hernandez said. “So we’ve got the support available, it’s a matter of you taking advantage of it”

Counselors are available to meet with students by appointment and can be contacted at 361-698-1586 or 361-698-1649.

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