Swanson: It’s Important to Not Go Alone into Finals and the Holiday Season

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By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

With the passing of the great turkey feast and the beginning of all-day trips to the mall, the most stressful time of a college student’s year is upon us. It’s also the most stressful season for lots of people. The holidays means increased power bills for lights, cold weather, icy roads and the stress and cost of buying presents for friends and family. For us we have the added stress of the great behemoth that plagues the lives of every university student in December: finals. With our normal and ongoing sources of stress constantly wearing down on us along with the ones that come with December, it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, we were taught or have just developed the belief that it is best to put on a smile and carry on. That may help us look fine in the face of adversity, but it definitely doesn’t make us feel okay.

That’s why I think it’s important to remind everyone who feels the weight of the world bearing down on them that they don’t have to do go it alone. Everyone understands that nobody has a perfectly happy life that goes without a hitch. It would probably be a stretch to imagine any life where there isn’t always at least one thing going wrong, or that could be better. If there are people who try to convince you that your struggles aren’t worth noting or considering, then find the people who will. Family members and friends who understand that suffering is subjective and that any pain and stress is grating will understand and listen.

Venting and ranting is a popular and important part of healing and coping with whatever is stressing you in your life. When you go to your friends or families with your problems they may not be able to give you all the answers, but just saying what you’re feeling out loud to someone who cares and will listen has a strange healing effect in itself. Most of us already know this. When we go to the people who we feel safe with we know the satisfaction that comes from the release of just letting everything out and being understood — getting the solution to your problem may be an added bonus.

Hopefully you have someone in mind that you can go to. A special someone like a parent, sibling, significant other or friend who you can always call to air out your sorrows. If not, you should definitely reach out and try to establish a connection like that. I know it sounds a little blunt to just go outright and say ‘get closer with people,’ but ultimately it is up to you to bring the relationship to a level where both parties are comfortable talking about issues at varying levels of severity. So if you’ve been meaning to get closer with a certain person in your life, go ahead and make that effort. The pay-off outweighs the simple awkwardness that may follow.

If you really feel that you cannot divulge your feelings to friends and family, there is still hope for you. I definitely understand having certain issues or problems that you feel would just bring people down more than it would heal you. For these situations, it’s completely recommended that you seek a professional to listen to you. If something is so serious that you feel you can’t go to the people you are closest with about it, and it is causing you a great level of stress and pain, maybe even to the point of interfering with the quality of your life — it is acceptable to seek a counselor. You shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment for seeking out help. It’s what the service is there for and not utilizing it would just be a waste. The university offers counseling services to its students for very low rates. Interested students should browse http://counselingcenter.utah.edu for information on booking appointments and rates.

If for any reason you feel you can’t turn to friends, family or a professional you’re not in a helpless situation. Everybody needs a release of some sort. Venting/ranting to somebody is a common and effective way to release all of that stress, anger and pain — but that’s not to say that there aren’t other and perhaps even equally effective means of letting it all out. If talking it out isn’t an option then find that certain activity that allows you to take out that frustration. For a lot of people it’s art — writing poems and songs, drawing, listening to music. For some people it’s some sort of sport: it’s kicking a ball, taking a swim, punching a bag. For others it’s just that one thing that may work for them — snuggling with your dog and watching your favorite sitcom, taking a walk down your favorite backyard path, doing yo-yo tricks until things just seem better for some reason.

No matter how you do it, it’s important that you somehow let out the bad feelings that come with stress and leading a normal life. Whether it’s letting it out with a friend over a cup of coffee or doing jumping jacks in your backyard, just make sure you do your best to not keep your bad feelings pent up in your mind. It’s best for everybody. So, here’s to the fun and joy that comes from the holiday season and the relief and liberation that comes with finishing your finals. May those be goals enough to help get you through this turbulent time.