College students have been given a bad reputation by the media between the portrayals of ignorant fraternities or radical protestors; however, those representations do not exemplify the majority of college students. Movies, songs, TV shows and social media tend to portray the university experience as one big party. Furthermore, there are times when the college experience is filled with fun, social gatherings. However, if college student’s lives were like Asher Roth’s song, “I Love College” paying OSAP debts, being a competitive candidate for graduate programs and simply getting by would be nearly impossible. There are plenty of pressures on us students and if our priorities were to “Chug! chug! chug!” well, life would look more like Kanye West’s College Dropout album. When people hear the school “Western Ontario” they assume us Mustangs are here to party. Then I think about my long nights at club Weldon. Western has incredibly demanding academics and us students work hard and sometimes we have to let loose. Western is a big school and when you put that many young adults in the same vicinity things are going to get wild at times. However, this does not take away from the fact that we work hard.
The realities for students entering the workforce today are harsh. A standard bachelor’s degree no longer sets you apart from others and the demand for more education is being used as a gatekeeper to keep students away from an unpromising, baby boomer dominated workforce. We are the first generation of North Americans who are expected to accomplish less then our parents, as the middle class shrinks and the gap between the wealthy and poor grow. This reality is frightening. During exam time, students spend hours at the library and many students turn to using un-prescribed Adderall to help ease the stress of long study hours. Additionally, the library is open for use 24 hours a day during exam time, thus students begin staying up at all hours of the night studying. Every year, some students experience different forms of depression as a result of this stressful time of year. This is an aspect of being a university student is never portrayed in the media. Students are constantly faced with competition from their peers to have a high GPA in order to get into graduate school. These are the anxieties that most university students are faced with today.
The key to having a successful university career is finding balance. Sometimes us collegiates need to forget the anxieties of the future. Good marks are important but so is your social life. Happiness and health should always be a number one priority for students. This includes making time for hobbies, work, study, exercise and social gatherings. We all have the ability to make choices and fitting in that half an hour run in between studying and working can have a positive effect on your mental health and well being. School can be competitive and stressful however, maintaining your health and happiness is critical to being successful student at school. Ultimately, there is life after exams and even during exams and it is important not to forget that. Here are a few suggestions to help you de-stress when life gets a little overwhelming.
Have you ever tried closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and removing your self from your thoughts for a few minutes? Everyone needs to end internal dialogue sometimes. Try listening to some relaxing music and find inner peace with yourself. Taking these few minutes to remove your self from your thoughts will have a positive impact on your health. Meditation enhances your concentration, your ability to focus and learn, thus engaging in meditation can only benefit you.
Exercise is proven to be helpful in combatting depression and can help you stay focus. Making time for exercise can have a huge impact on your quality of life. If you do not have time for the gym, grab a friend and have a dance party. There are many options when it comes to exercise whether it’s playing a sport, going for a bike ride, hitting the gym or attending a yoga class. A one-hour work out only takes up 4% of your day, thus there are no excuses!
Whether you are into hip-hop, soul, R&B, rock and roll, heavy metal, classical or Jazz music, listening to music can have positive effects on your mental health. Studies show that people who listen to music have less anxiety and lower cortisol levels. In between study breaks find your favorite 8-tracks playlist and reward yourself with the treat of listening to music. If you have a roommate who can play instrument you can get some friends together and have a sing-a-long. I know it sounds cheesy, but it can really be fun and relaxing. The best memories are always made with a guitar and a few good friends. Music contributes positively to a healthy, functioning brain.
TV Shows and Movies:
Excessively watching television is counter productive however; there is no harm in rewarding yourself after a long day, by watching your favorite show. Whether, is Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, New Girl or Girls, taking the time to catch up on your favorite program provides you with some great entertainment and maybe even a couple of good laughs. TV and movies can take your mind off school and work for a little bit and let you kick back and relax. Watching a good comedy can help people temporarily forget their responsibilities and provide the most important medicine, laughter.
All in all, maintaining your health and happiness during stressful times impacts your exam marks and confidence. All these suggestions are great; however, it is important to also be organized, eat properly, sleep well and if you feel you need to talk to someone, there is no shame. There are plenty of resources around campus including counseling services that are here for YOU! At the end of the day, happiness and health should always be a number one priority for students because ultimately, maintaining your mental stability is critical to being successful student at school.