Pursuing peace: Students find creative ways to cope with stress

Grace+Abbott+on+the+roof+of+a+car.+Abbott+enjoys+going+on+drives+to+destress+from+class.+

Courtesy of Grace Abbott

Grace Abbott on the roof of a car. Abbott enjoys going on drives to destress from class.

Aubrey Smith, A&C Reporter

As the spring semester comes to an end and exams are just around the corner, students are finding ways to cope with the large amounts of stress and burnout they’ve been dealing with. 

The combination of college and COVID-19 has contributed to anxiety, depression and loneliness in students. On top of that, App State students have seen almost no breaks this semester. Alana Coley and Kaitlyn Mesimer have been navigating their first year of college amid a pandemic.

“It’s been hard to start college during all of this,” Mesimer said. 

To combat the stress, the roommates enjoy watching TV shows such as “Friends,” “The Office” and “Shameless.” They also like to spend time outdoors. 

“We go to Durham Park a lot just to chill out there and do homework,” Coley said. “Me and my boyfriend go and play frisbee in the park because we’re cooped up in the dorms doing homework all day.”

Durham Park near Founders Plaza. As the weather warms, Durham Park is a place students go to destress from class. (Hiatt Ellis)

The cold winter in Boone can be hard for students who struggle with seasonal depression. Roughly 5% of adults in the U.S. deal with seasonal depression, and January and February are the most challenging months for those struggling with it. But as the warm Boone weather returns, students are returning to outdoor campus and town hotspots. Hammocks, shared blankets on Sanford Mall and the slap of hands on a football are the sights and sounds of spring, coming back to campus. 

Sophomore Grace Abbott said this semester has been rough, but she feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Abbott has found peace in going on drives every week to prepare for what’s ahead.

“I’m a big Sunday drive type of girl,” Abbott said. “Just to recenter myself before the week starts and to calm back down.”

Sophomore Hannah Wood designates her Saturdays for taking the day off from school work and instead spends time going on hikes with her friends. Putting school work on a pause has helped Wood focus on her friends and enjoy the scenery, she said. 

Wood appreciates the effort professors make to ease students’ workload, but still feels tired from her amount of schoolwork. 

“I feel like I have been able to manage everything, but I’ve definitely been exhausted because I’ve always had a bunch of assignments,” Wood said. 

In past semesters affected by COVID-19, the provost has given students the choice to opt into the pass/no credit grading option, providing some relief to those whose academic work has been affected by the pandemic. With the end of the spring semester insight, it’s still up in the air whether or not the option will be available this year. 

For freshman Emi Velez, stepping away from school-related screens has helped deal with stress. 

“Either going outside and enjoying the weather or going to the game room and playing pool, getting away from electronics is super helpful for me,” Velez said. “Or just sitting in my room by myself watching a show that I’ve been wanting to catch up on or reading a book or something that has nothing to do with school.” 

While the unique scenery on campus helps students get outside more often, Abbott said she feels like she doesn’t appreciate it enough while in school. 

“I feel like a lot of us don’t enjoy enough where we live because we are so encompassed in our schoolwork,” Abbott said. 

As summer break draws near Abbott and Wood are looking forward to appreciating their environment in Boone more, without the stress of school. 

“I feel like I can appreciate the summer more now so than before because I haven’t had a break,” Wood said. “It’s exciting just to focus on myself.”