With finals closing in, many students forget to take care of themselves in the midst of their overwhelming to-do lists.
“When your body is under stress, your natural responses are thrown out of whack,” said Joe Mankowski, assistant director at FitRec.
This time of year can take a toll on students, but steps can be taken to combat the negative consequences of stress.
Director of Counseling Services Katherine Cornelius understands just how taxing stress can be for students.
“The stress affects your focus, and that affects your rest, then it’s just this spiral,” Cornelius said. “Chronic stress erodes the networks in our brains. It’s almost like the atrophy of a muscle.”
Physical activity has been shown to combat some of these damaging effects. When it comes to adding activity to students’ schedules, Mankowski said the little things are most important.
“Walk to the library. Don’t drive short distances. Take the stairs when you can,” Mankowski said. “Even if you can only come in for 10 to 15 minutes, you can still get an effective workout in.”
Along with the benefits of exercise, students should make sure they pay attention to other aspects of their health.
“It’s not just the exercise component. Make sure you eat well, sleep well and hydrate well,” Mankowski said.
Stress impacts the body both mentally and physically, so it makes sense that the best defense involves both of these components of wellness.
“Mindfulness — in a simple definition — is finding a pause and being present in the moment,” Cornelius said.
FitRec and counseling services are working together to create 30 minute mindfulness classes to help ease the stress this time of year brings.
“It’s open to faculty, staff, students, anybody,” Cornelius said. “We want to be able to go out and bring mindfulness to the community.”
The classes are led by Hannah Peterson, an intern at counseling services who was just hired as a case manager. The classes are currently on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the plan is to continue them in the future.
As far as practicing mindfulness daily, Cornelius said, “Try doing things like riding in the car without the radio on and pay attention to the sensory. Park a little farther away and really experience the walk.”
Finals can be overwhelming, but by taking some of this advice, students can make it through successfully.
Photo courtesy of Belmont Office of Communications