Sullivan: Remember to take time for yourself

As this term gets into full swing, passersby on 13th Avenue and University Street can almost smell the stress in the air. At this point in our lives, grades can seem like the most important thing in the world to us. We spend countless hours memorizing flash cards, going over our notes, reading textbooks and fighting our peers over spots in the library, all so that we can achieve that awe-inspiring A — the grade that we wish we could tell all our relatives we received during spring break.

The reality is that in five years we probably won’t remember the classes we took, let alone the grades we got. Hell, freshman year was only three years ago and for the life of me I can’t remember what class I took my spring term. Was it Sociology 204 or English 104? Point is, I survived those classes and lived to fight another day. Right now it might seem like this chemistry class or that project in architecture will absolutely end our lives or our chance at a future career if we fail them. But, they won’t. So, why stress?

According to an Associated Press poll conducted in 2009, 85 percent of college students felt stress daily. With student debt hitting one trillion dollars, work, class, homework and future career choices, it’s no wonder. In fact, I just got a little more stressed writing that list.

Okay, deep breath.

According to Deborah Rozman, a Ph.D. and CEO of HeartMath, one can use their heart to help reduce their stress. By creating a loving feeling — usually by imagining a loved one or pet — you can dramatically reduce your stress.

A technique that I use comes from something I learned at Leadershape, a week-long summer program that our very own Holden Center offers. There, Christopher Ruiz de Esparza, the associate director, offered advice. What he said to me and my fellow Leadershapers changed the way I look at school and other responsibilities. His philosophy — to always remember to take time to yourself — is something that I’ve carried with me over a year later.

In all that we do, sometimes we forget that it is okay to play “Call of Duty” or watch “The Bachelor.” It’s okay to go play basketball or take a walk in a park. We need these activities to disengage our mind and give ourselves a break.

In fact, the less we take care of ourselves, the more likely we are to suffer later in life. According to a study done by Indiana University, some health problems that may be caused by stress include arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure.

The key to anything is moderation. The common belief is that studying all night to achieve a better grade is a good idea. However, according to Rozman, studies show that if you get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, you’re more likely to perform better on your exams and essays. In fact, according to medicalnewtoday.com, a study in 2006 done by the University of California and Stanford showed that rats with less sleep could not remember how to make it through a maze compared to rats that were well rested. Sleep is imperative for cognitive function.

So, this term, let’s start a trend. Let’s not let academics get the best of us. We’re here to get an education and the quality of that education isn’t always reflected by the letter grade we get in the classroom.

Would you like to increase opportunities for women and people of color in journalism? Now is your chance to support the Emerald’s program by helping us send reporter Ryan Nguyen and Emily Goodykoontz to the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference this June!



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