By Kaitlyn Harms
The holidays are typically associated with the ideals of family, friends, relaxation and reflection. As the College enters winter break, students are excited to relax and enjoy the time away from school work. While many might experience familial stress during the holiday season, students were met with a unique set of stressors with finals taking place in such close proximity to Thanksgiving break.
For students at the College, the added pressures of the semester’s end made the Thanksgiving holiday stressful rather than a time for gratitude and decompression.
“My professors had a lot of important papers and final projects due in the last two weeks after Thanksgiving break, and I feel like I would have been in the right headspace to do them if I didn’t have that break,” said James Chiriboga, a junior education major and Community Advisor (CA) of Wolfe Hall. “With finals being so close to the break, I found myself feeling overwhelmed instead of relaxed, which is what I think a break should be about.”
An article in the Student Success Journal explored the impact of fall break on student stress in Canada, where the break consists of one week in October. The authors of this article conducted an interdisciplinary, longitudinal study examining the effects of fall break on undergraduate students. While the students appreciated the break as an opportunity to reduce their stress, many reported negative impacts on the timing of academic assessments and their ability to manage their study time effectively.
Although the College’s Thanksgiving break differs from Canada’s, in that it consists of four days and takes place two weeks before the end of the semester, students at the College expressed similar opinions to those of Canadian undergraduates.
“I really didn’t get to enjoy family time because of all the work and expectations that professors had for me right after break,” said Madison Mulhall, a sophomore speech pathology major. “It was more of a time for me to do work at home rather than to relax and rejuvenate.”
As winter break approaches, students at the College are looking forward to destressing and putting the work from the past semester behind them.
“I really enjoy winter break because I feel like it is a time where I can actually spend time with family and friends without worrying about due dates and exams,” said Anna Galoumian, a sophomore biology major. “The fall semester is over, and I can put all of that work in the past.”
Some students try to find ways to destress even during the hectic times that come before and after the breaks from school.
Chiriboga explained that, although there may be increased stressors affecting him after break, he also takes advantage of campus facilities to manage his stress.
“I really like taking walks around the fitness loop and using the gym on campus to clear my mind when I find myself feeling stressed or overwhelmed by work,” Chiriboga said.
Students enjoy having a break to decompress; however, they believe that this time would be far more beneficial if assignments weren’t due immediately upon return.
Students experiencing stress and anxiety are encouraged to reach out to the Counseling and Prevention Services and the Center for Integrative Wellness. For students who feel as though they are struggling in a specific subject, the Tutoring Center is available to assist students with understanding academic material.