You read it. The elephant in the room when it comes to university, especially official university serious business blogging (which Labyrinth totally is). Stress. Student life is stressful. You’ve got exams and essays, application deadlines, grades to keep up, assignments to do, and that’s before getting into anything to do with extracurriculars, money, work, or your family. Did I mention the giant pile of student debt you’re statistically likely to have? Or the uncertainty of your future? The girl/guy you met in class that one time and then saw later who might be into you but you can’t tell and don’t want to ask because it might wreck things? How about the deep existential fear that all of this is just a meaningless waste of time and you’re going through the motions until you grow old alone, get a bunch of cats, and die after a completely unremarkable life?
It’s stressful. But we get through it. This term on Labyrinth, we’re going to go over some of the ways that students manage stress. Today I want to talk about some of the resources that are available to you.
The University of Waterloo has a counselling office. It’s in Needles Hall, otherwise known as that big building beside the library, the one with the crazy staircase. They’re available for one on one counselling, and they also run workshops on all kinds of things, like how to be happier, how to manage stress, and how to stop procrastinating. I’ve never been to these workshops, but I know some of the people over there. They’re good people, and they’re good at what they do. It’s their job to help you, and they’ll do it in basically anyway that they can. They’re always my first recommendation. You can find out more on the Counselling Services website.
A burden shared is a burden lifted, they say. It isn’t strictly true, especially if you all have the same burden, but it can be a big help. They understand the kind of stress you’re under. Not just as generic university stress, but the uncertainty, the assignments, and the finals. You are shoulder to shoulder in the trenches of education. We’re going to talk a lot about how to reach out to your fellow students, through study groups, discussion groups, pub crawls, and friendship (though probably not in that order). The friends you make in university are hopefully going to be the kind of people you want to be stuck with for the rest of your life, so the people whose burdens you share and who share yours could be the ones who do it for much of your life. Never forget that you’re part of a community. That’s why the other thing we’re talking about this term is how to get involved, the two topics go hand in hand.
Your professors are not your confessors, but neither are they villains. They understand how hectic things can get. Stress doesn’t go away when you graduate, after all. There are still deadlines, worries, existential crises, and family emergencies. This doesn’t mean you can get an extension on every assignment, but it does mean that if you go to their office hours or make a time to meet them, they’ll do what they can to help you. If it’s assignment troubles, they can give you essay tips, or recommend a tutor. If it’s a family emergency, they’re going to get it. They’ve been there. I’m not in a position to promise this from every prof on campus, though it’s my fondest hope. But I know all of the professors in Classical and Medieval Studies department personally. They’re good people, and they want you to do well.
Over the term you can look forward to posts about how to relieve stress through leisure, through managing time, through organizations both on campus and in the community, and some things I haven’t even thought about, because our own students, alumni, and professors are going to chime in about how they deal with stress. Everyone has their own way of doing it, and I think the best thing we can do here is help you find yours. I invite you to leave a comment with how you deal with the stress of university, or share a story.