Chill out from midterm burnout

It is a common sight in the Santa Monica College library to see students taking up any available table, lying on the floor, or turning chairs into makeshift beds so that they can rest either before, after or between classes. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, burnout is described as "exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration."

For many college students, midterms and other projects culminate right before spring break, which can cause stress and burnout.

Dr. Jim Sears from the CBS daytime show "The Doctors" explains some of the symptoms that college students go through when they are burned out.

"When you're suddenly dreading going into class, you start to be critical of class," he says. "You're not feeling much energy. You feel like you don't really care, and you [would] rather just not go to class."

Furthermore, Sears adds that students may lose interest in classes they once cared about when burnt out.

There are different kinds of stress that affect the body. Sears describes short-term stress as the kind of stress felt before giving a speech or speaking in class, which, according to him, is actually a good type of stress.

Sears and Donna Davis-King, a psychology professor at SMC, both claim that excessive long-term stress is not healthy because the body starts to release the stress hormone cortisol.

"It can raise your blood pressure. It's not good for your heart and it's not good for your brain," says Sears. "Your energy will go down and you can't sleep as well."

According to Sears, feeling nervous, jittery, grinding teeth, and having a hard time focusing are all symptoms of stress that many college students experience, which can hinder their performance level.

Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular disease. But once relaxation techniques are learned, these cases can be avoided, Sears says.

Sears reminds his own daughter, who is also a college student, to consume omega-3 fatty acids for better brain function, especially when schoolwork adds up and becomes stressful.

In order to avoid sleep deprivation or losing hair from stressing out, Sears recommends daily exercise, even if it is tossing a football or Frisbee or walking across the campus.

SMC yoga instructor Leslie Porter encourages the practice of yoga during stressful times.

"Restorative yoga will help you create a sense of new breath," she says.

According to Porter, the poses in this type of yoga are scientifically proven to help with sleeping patterns, anxiety and stress.

She noticed that the majority of her students join her yoga class to relieve stress throughout the school semester. Davis-King is inspired by how motivated SMC students are, but she has still seen some of them quitting school from being burned out because students are not aware of individualized learning techniques.

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is to know how you learn," she says. Davis-King says it is important for students to try different methods of studying to find the one that best suits them.

"Students that try to pull all-nighters and are sleep deprived actually have lower GPAs," she says.

Sears, Davis-King and Porter all agree in the power of positive thinking, forming study groups, and having a good support system.

SMC student Jennifer Guadamuz is taking 12 units, works part time as an assistant manager at Little Caesars, and takes care of her little brother. She does her homework between short breaks at work or when she gets home past midnight. She describes herself as "really stressed out."

"I would be the first person in my family to graduate from college," she says of her motivation behind her hard work. Guadamuz makes no excuses and will even come to school an hour early if she has to. "I get it done," she says.

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