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LOPEZ-ORTIZ: De-stressing is vital for succeeding in school

Column: Food for Thought

As finals approach, it is important to focus on prioritizing our mental health. – Photo by Elisa Ventur / Unsplash

With the school year coming to an end, finals are approaching. Students' stress and anxiety levels rise, which can create an imbalance of stress and self-care. As a first-year student, it can be hard to find a balance between self-care and school work. I always find myself not prioritizing my mental health and stressing over school work and the possibility of falling behind.

I stress over grades and finishing my work on time at the cost of my mental health. As students, we should recognize how important it is to de-stress and prioritize our mental health and emotional wellness.

I find it difficult to balance school life and my mental health, as many students do. Students often forget that stressing over academics can have detrimental effects on our everyday life. Focusing too much on academics can lead to a decline in academic performance, according to John Hopkins Student Assistance Program. An unhealthy school and life balance can impact both students' quality of life and their academics.

Overworking becomes pointless as grades and performance worsen rather than improve. This leads students to think that they are not doing enough, which directly contributes to low self-esteem. Improvements in academic performance and our daily lives can be the result of making a study plan to not overwork and gain back control of negative thinking.

Mental health issues such as depression increase when work-life balance is lopsided, according to a study found in the National Library of Medicine. Good grades and achievements often come at the expense of the student which can often lead to depression and stress. Students become burned out which creates a never-ending cycle where students do not take care of themselves.

I would often find myself neglecting my mental health. I would sleep late and find myself in the library late to finish up my work. De-stressing can lead to huge improvements, and I regret not finding a balance between school and life.

Finding ways that I can de-stress is essential to my health and brings me insight into how focusing solely on academics can have a huge impact on my life. Sometimes I found it easier to take breaks, listen to music and read books than to focus on my work.

Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program points out that time management and being aware of stress both play a key role in success. Though, I acknowledge that time management can be very difficult as I always tend to procrastinate.

In high school, I found myself struggling with time management, and having online classes during the pandemic only made my work ethic worse. I find myself stressed that I could not manage my time efficiently and beat myself up when I do badly in school as a result.

Lack of sleep due to massive amounts of schoolwork can also have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health. Staying up late to finish my work makes me feel tired throughout the day, which hinders my ability to put effort into my work. Not being aware of stress puts me at a disadvantage and in a constant cycle of stress and anxiety.

Rutgers Resources for Student Success gives students access to help when dealing with mental health problems and gives students opportunities to have a support system when dealing with the stress of school.

Though it can be intimidating asking for help, for the sake of students’ mental health, it can eventually help them in the long run. Colleges should also emphasize to students the resources that are available to them and how they can be very helpful in coping with stress.

I empathize with my fellow peers about how school can be very demanding since I, too, face the same issue. I urge students to prioritize their mental health and practice self-care when school becomes too stressful because it can improve their mental state and well-being.

Daisy Lopez-Ortiz is a first-year in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish. Her column, "Food for Thought," runs on alternate Tuesdays. 

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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