Editorial: Let’s de-stress for success

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When the wepa printers are breaking down daily, that’s when you know school has really started. But fixing our printers won’t fix a cultural norm on campus that shouldn’t be a norm at all: The majority of us are excessively stressed out and we are not doing anything about it.

The Case Western Reserve University community is competitive and driven, but not always in a good way. As students strive to become academically successful, they start to compare themselves to others around them and add more onto their already-heavy schedules. All of a sudden, academically successful equates to not getting enough sleep. It means having no time for yourself because the next obligation is in five minutes. Our community has started to measure success based on our level of stress. If you’re not exhausted to the point of burn out, you’re doing something wrong.

In addition to this culture of let’s-stress-for-success, when students need to turn to counseling services for help, it is almost looked down upon. It is rare to hear students say that they are going to counseling or participating in a yoga class in order to de-stress. It is more common to hear a student list off the many obligations they have in their day, how many hours, or lack of, sleep they are running on and how many cups of coffee they ingested to function.  

Why is it that our community values hard work to the point of mental breakdowns, but getting help to relieve stress is associated with weakness?

There should be competition between students on working hard while maintaining sanity. And talking about strategies for de-stressing should be commonplace, not rare.

Some strategies include finding an outlet where students can talk about how stressed they are. The University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) provides students with hours for walk-ins. Several spaces on campus, the LGBT center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Thwing Center, exist so students have places to relax. Resources are there for us so we don’t break down.

However, it’s also on the campus community as a whole to uphold the value of emotional and mental health and take it more seriously. Although UHCS is available to students, it is not always flexible. Waiting for a walk-in appointment can be time consuming for students, rather than convenient. The community does not also do enough to publicize events on campus, like yoga or meditation sessions, to promote a balanced lifestyle of working hard and resting.

The community needs to make mental and emotional health a priority just as it does for academics. Let’s do more than take measures to de-stress; let’s make it part of campus culture.