Stress-related complaints increase as quarter ends

Bongsoo Park

Gregory Brown’s stress-induced migraine headaches worsen at the end of the quarter. The paleontology graduate student said his migraine headaches, which last for several hours to days, make it difficult to study when he needs to study most.
Brown isn’t alone. The number of students coming to Boynton Health Service for stress-related issues increases at the end of the quarter. Students are under intense stress from competition for grades and final papers, said Dr. Robert Wolley, a physician at Boynton Health Service.
“Ten percent of the people I see everyday, especially toward the end of the quarter, are purely and mostly due to stress from their school or work, and another 20 percent on top of that have conditions they would have had or otherwise worsen by stress, like ulcer, chronic diarrhea or headaches,” Wolley said.
According to the Student Health Survey of 1995, a mailing survey conducted every three years by Boynton, failing a class ranked the fifth of 14 major stressors, preceded by death and serious illness of someone close to a student, excessive credit card debt and termination of a long personal relationship.
Thos. Beaumont, a licensed independent clinical social worker at Boynton, said the number of phone calls he received has increased during the last two weeks of the quarter. During the fall and winter, peoples’ abilities to withstand stress is lower than average, he said.
Beaumont, who has been counseling students for 28 years at Boynton, said one of the stressors is the final exam, when the productivity of the entire quarter is judged on the basis of a couple of hours’ worth of writing.
“Just the final exam itself is a disturbing situation and puts a lot of pressure on a person. You only have one chance, and that’s threatening,” Beaumont said.
However, stress can be an effective source of motivation because positive stress releases an extra burst of adrenaline that helps some students finish their final papers, win at sports or meet other challenges, Wolley said.
Positive stress — short term physiological tensing and mental alertness that subsides when the challenge has been met — enables people to relax and move on with normal activities.
However, if students can’t return to a relaxed state, this stress becomes negative and results in changes in the body.
“They tend to be type-A people and perfectionists,” Wolley said. “They have high expectations for themselves, specific career goals to achieve and are more driven to their grades.”
Some suggestions from Wolley to help cope with stress: Maintain regular sleep patterns, eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise and don’t drink too much alcohol.