Students should seek counseling to solve seasonal stress

Finals are here and Christmas break is just around the corner, and for many, this is the most stressful time of the year.
Even Christmas break can bring stress, as you may be returning to an environment, aka your home, that’s more stressful than your tests.
There are lots of ways students cope with the stress of the holidays and finals season, some of which are healthier than others, said Allison Felker and Melissa Goertz, counselors with Laramie County Community College’s Campus Wellness Center. Allison Felker is a licensed marriage and family therapist and counselor, and Melissa Goertz has a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy.
“Drugs, alcohol, and overeating are common ways to cope with stress in an unhealthy way, especially during finals season,” said Felker.
When going to a party or unwinding by yourself, take care to do everything in moderation. Consider how your stress may be causing you to do things that temporarily subdue the problem and push yourself to try something less destructive, Felker said.
Students overwhelmed with stress during finals often avoid homework, going to class, or speaking with their instructors, Goertz said. If you’re in this situation but still want to improve your grades, the best thing you can do is get in contact with your instructor and let them know what’s happening. It’s also important to create a realistic plan you can follow to catch up with the class.
The LCCC campus has lots of free resources for students to take care of their mental health. During finals week, the campus activity board holds events called Fuel for Finals. These events can include activities with arts and crafts, service animals and food, Felker said.
If you live in the residence halls, consider participating in the activities. If you’re having difficulty with classes, utilize the tutoring center in the library to get some one-on-one help. Another free resource available to students is counseling through Campus Wellness. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, experiencing trauma, or simply want a plan to handle finals, get in touch with a campus counselor, says Felker. You don’t need to be going through a crisis to visit the wellness center: Many times, a visit can help you avoid one.
After finals, many students return home to spend Christmas break with family, and some of those students are returning home after being away for the first time. The transition of living with family after tasting the independence of college can be challenging for a family to understand and respect. There may be subjects you don’t want to talk about or boundaries that your family may overstep. “Talking with your family in a respectful way and being open and honest about what changes you need to be comfortable can help ease the stress of returning home,” said Felker.
Students who frequently visit home can still feel stressed around family, especially during the holiday season.
“Break your holiday down to what’s important to you and try not to spend too much of your time pleasing others,” Felker said.
Even though the holidays can be stressful for families, it may be one of the only times that your family gets together to spend time with each other all year, so make the most of it, Felker said.
If you’re a student living in the dorms or somewhere far from family and can’t make it home for the holidays, lean on others. If a friend invites you over to spend time with their family, consider going. You could also try getting other students and friends who can’t make it home to celebrate the holiday together. It’s important to surround yourself with people you care about.

Campus wellness is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. (excluding holidays and breaks).
Call (307) 778-4397 or visit Clay Pathfinder Building, Room 207 to make an appointment.

The After-Hours Crisis Counseling Line is (307) 778-4397 and then press 1, or dial the toll-free number (844) 208-7073. Dial it at anytime, especially if you or people you know have thoughts of harming themselves.
You can dial 911 in that case, or you can also try the National Suicide Prevention lifeline: (800) 273-TALK and the Suicide Text Hotline by texting “WYO” to 741-741.

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