Buring the candle at both ends

Robin Heim

Tom Petty said, “You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…”

Well, Petty obviously wasn’t talking about our generation; all one has to do is walk into Bartley in the wee hours of Monday morning and see the sweatpants-and-pajama-clad-students to know that. Yes, we have fun, but we also work.

Some would say we work too much and have too much on our plates. In fact, a study conducted by the American College Health Association in 2001 found that more than 92 percent of students feel overwhelmed at least occasionally by all the tasks they have to perform.

In other words, you may take Tom Petty’s advice and go out on a Tuesday when you have a paper due Wednesday, but you’ll be stressing about it the minute you return to your desk.

Truth be told, most of us are trying to do too many activities – socializing with friends, participating in clubs, volunteering, working at a job and taking classes – in too little time. Can we have our cake and eat it too?

“I go to my classes, do my work, and go to parties on the weekends,” says Ashley, a freshman. “I just don’t sleep as much as I used to.”

Not only are college students getting fewer than the recommended six-to-nine hours of sleep per night, but they are suffering in other ways as well.

Stress causes a host of health problems including a weakened immune system, high blood-pressure, nausea, anxiety and depression according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Though many college students have heard these facts before, we still press on with over-demanding schedules (case in point: I’m writing this article at 2 a.m. on a Monday night).

“Sleep is overrated,” says junior Jenn Wittmann. “If it comes between getting enough sleep and making sure all of my work is finished, I’m going to lose out on sleep and get everything done.”

So if experts can’t convince us to get more sleep and take on fewer demands, how can we manage stress? A counseling center pamphlet on stress management suggests setting realistic, clear goals and prioritizing your time.

If one of your commitments is more trouble than it’s worth, consider dropping it. They also recommend scheduling in “you time” every day to do things that you enjoy, such as watching your favorite show, exercising or spending time with friends.

In reality, we college students want to do it all, and a lack of time and the symptoms of stress don’t seem to be slowing us down. But remember, in the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”