By Carmen Mia De Maria Tello Roig
This week, the average student will be under-sleeping and staying awake for at least two consecutive days. Competitively, students are pushing themselves to end the semester on a winning streak, and this breeds physical and mental exhaustion. The exhaustion can be felt all over campus. Students might ask themselves, “What else is to be expected?” Their minds will likely answer, “This is exactly how college is supposed to be!” Supposedly the end of the semester is when everyone straps on their seatbelts and promises to make the academic comeback of the century. Most do. But at what cost?
Every good student has a certain study routine or habit that they consider efficient. The question is, are these tried-and-proven studying methods good for our physical and mental well-being? The exhausted and well-rested students may both get the same letter grade. But, in the long run, those with healthy studying habits will outdo the ones participating in unhealthy habits, such as cramming for finals, skipping meals, and not sleeping for days. People who chronically engage in these unhealthy habits put their brains at risk of impairing cognitive functions and affecting the body’s neurotransmitters. All of this might be happening internally, yet most of the time it remains a neglected area of concern for most students.
Nonstop studying and drilling of important concepts will cause extreme fatigue and over-productivity. But everyone wants to be the person who’s already gotten twelve things done from their to-do list before 9:00 a.m. Everyone also wants to be the student that takes advantage of every single opportunity, and for many people failing a class isn’t an option because they’d have to pay out of pocket or would subsequently disqualify them from merit scholarships. This societal obsession with finals week and producing results may be impacting students negatively. Exams are considered by many students as necessary disturbances, but one must not keep awake for too long. Studying for fourteen hours straight might seem harmless, but it can’t be ignored that productivity, and studying also has a threshold.
Kate D, a soon to be graduating student states, “Having finals is like I put a block in my head, and I just charge through it and then realize everything when I’m done. I pull it off until I can’t anymore, and the stress forces me to work. I don’t get much time to decompress either.”
Kate, like many others, has found themselves close to having a mental health crisis. The probability that someone might have an emotional breakdown is heightened by the profound physical toll that over productivity causes in students. Therefore, it’s essential that students take note of their burnout symptoms because burnout has recently become a recognized medical disorder, often overlapping with depression, and anxiety. If not properly allowed to decompress, the enormous amount of stress that a student feels could possibly lead the body into developing physical and noticeable behavioral disorders like trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder), and other repetitive self-soothing behaviors that may sometimes impact the quality of life of an individual.
Not only does a student feel “blocked” by the stress that comes with overworking, but the lack of sleep does not help the student retain the information they’ve killed themselves to memorize. Sleeping makes time for the brain to process information, and taking time out of your day to scroll through YouTube or Pinterest is the sort of idleness that is still necessary to keep ourselves grounded, and calm. It is probable that most students will probably go without sleeping in the next few days. Education is something everyone should be fighting for, but taking care of oneself mentally is also an investment worth the effort.
Queensborough Community College and its professors stress that students protect their well-being first and always choose their needs first. This includes prioritizing basic needs, like proper nutrition and rest. There likely will be very tired students hanging around campus. Much to everyone’s delight, there will be multiple ongoing events on campus to support test takers, one of them being on Wednesday, May 17th, through Monday, May 22nd, in which the Office of Student Affairs will be providing students with free grab & go snacks, including coffee, tea, granola bars and pre-packaged pastries.