MU Student Health and Well-Being offers reprieve for students navigating stress and anxiety

Stress management events hosted by MU Student Health and Well-Being are designed to aid students during finals.

For some MU students, winter break can’t come soon enough. The stress of a pandemic — on top of virtual classes and exams — has some students experiencing anxiety on a new level. MU Student Health and Well-Being is offering stress management events, workshops and discussions to aid students in the last weeks of the fall semester.

23% of students reported seeking professional help for their anxiety in the past year, according to the National College Health Assessment from the American College Health Association. For students experiencing anxiety and stress related to the end of the semester, MU offers many resources. The Counseling Center provides one-on-one consultation and group therapy. The Student Health and Well-Being website offers information on self-care, including a new section on ways to take care of oneself during the pandemic. Some remote services include yoga, mental health assessment screenings and workshops spread throughout the semester.

The Skills for Managing Test Anxiety workshop acts to prepare students heading into finals. The workshop was available on Dec. 9.

Freshman Kara Young attended the workshop to learn more on how to focus during exams and address negative thoughts that hinder her performance.

“I would know the information; I would understand it well; I would get good grades, but then when it came to testing, it’s like all of the information flew out of my brain,” Young said.

Workshop instructor Michael Kaplan explained the importance of viewing anxiety as a normal response to large tasks, assignments, essays and exams. Some keys to reducing testing anxiety include preparing well, relaxing your body through breathing techniques and talking back to unhelpful thoughts.

One lesson Young learned from the workshop was nobody can perfectly perform all the time.

“You can’t expect yourself to be this perfect person all of the time that gets good grades and has a perfect life,” Young said. “I have to realize that I can’t put all of this internal pressure onto myself through all of the external pressures from society and school.”

Sophomore Becca Wolf said this semester has been more stressful than past semesters due to a switch from in person classes to remote learning. Wolf said she spends the majority of her day in front of a computer screen.

“There’s no difference between relaxing and schoolwork since it’s all in the same room,” Wolf said. “I feel like now, with there not being many events on campus, the only relaxing I can do is on my laptop already.”

One aspect of college this year that stressed freshman Ben Clements was the addition of self-paced courses, which were not available to him in high school.

“I would have to worry about spacing out all of the lecture videos and completing the homework on different days, instead of trying to do it all in one day, so I wouldn’t be so stressed to get it all done before the deadline,” Clements said.

Young noted that going all-virtual for the remaining two weeks of the semester has removed some of the anxiety surrounding finals.

“It’s been more of a relief to be home rather than seeing everybody — all of the freshmen on campus — at the dorms stressed out because of finals week,” Young said. “I definitely get stressed out when other people are stressed.”

Freshman Emily Stork noted that attending classes from home can often become a double-edged sword.

“When I’m at home, I feel like it’s a place to relax, so it was kind of weird adjusting to doing schoolwork at home,” Stork said. “[But] it’s going to be really nice to get a break from classes. I really miss seeing my friends and family at home.”

Wolf added that she is eager to start winter break to take a load off of her shoulders.

“I’m ready to have a break, to not have to worry about having something on my plate,” Wolf said. “Just enjoy things a bit better.”

Edited by Sophie Chappell | schappell@themaneater.com

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