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How To Cope: Students Experience Extra Holiday Stress

A UWF student studies on campus.
A UWF student studies on campus.

The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends. However, this can also be a stressful time for people, including college students. Mental health experts have some help regarding the difficulties of the holidays and how to cope with them.   

Dr. David Josephs is a psychologist and clinical director of Lake View Center. Josephs admitted that people are so stressed out during the holiday season is that they're so busy. Dr. Josephs believes “the biggest thing we face is juggling all the thing that we think we need to do during the holidays. Juggling finance, juggling children, and juggling work.”

Even though there are multiple triggers that cause stress, there are common triggers that people can identify - especially during the holiday season. They include a change from our daily routine, a loss of control, and concern about money. Josephs recognizes that “people worry about being able to afford things or the thing they want to afford for their family or loved ones."

Despite the challenges adults face, Joseph acknowledge that adults might have a slight advantage in dealing with stress compare to college students. Dr. Josephs admitted that “university students in particular have a lot of things to juggle in terms of classes and finances themselves. I think as folks get older it's a good thing. People have more practice juggling many things so maybe thing don't feel as stressful.”

Dr. Rebecca Kennedy is a licensed Psychologist, Chief Mental Health Officer at the University of West Florida, Assistant Vice President, and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services.

Dr. Kennedy agrees with Dr. Joseph’s assessment that students tend to get stress because of too much on their plate and that they haven’t quite figured out how manage everything. She says many students find that their worries are tied directly to their fear of academic failure instead of success. She specified that “the top concern that we see with students is anxiety. A lot of students struggling to just manage their stress. Students feel incompetent to be successful here; lots of folks here with the imposter feeling. Feeling like 'oh my goodness, I can't do this.'”

According to Kennedy, timing matters. Unfortunately, for students, the holiday season tend to coincide with midterms and finals. Dr. Kennedy said “we typically see within the first month or so is that we don't have as many clients coming in. People are coming back to the university saying hello to their friends and they are really optimistic. They feel like things are going to go really well, but somewhere around October-mid October we start to get pretty slammed.”

Dealing with stress can be difficult, but there are some fairly simple things that adults and students can do to help manage it. Dr. Joseph’s advice for people around the holiday season is “if you have healthy habits like exercising, eating well, and listening to music to relax, this is no time to stop the healthy habits. Keep doing that and remind yourselves to do those things.”

Some other recommendations: spend time with friends or watch a funny movie.


Copyright 2020 WUWF. To see more, visit WUWF.

Travis Morency