Keeping It Together
By Christine G. Adamo

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling mighty stressed right now.

I’m not sure how I’m keeping it all together … or whether I actually am, though I’m sure of one thing: With six weeks left in the semester and graduation looming large, the last thing I want is to log in to an Inbox laden with bold-type subject lines in ALL CAPs featuring exclamation points and question marks up the wazoo.

Image of a woman with a quill pen. (illustration courtesy Internet Book Archive Images on flickr)
Think before you compose an email. (Illustration courtesy Internet Book Archive Images on flickr)

Here’s a sampling of what I received, via my Naz account, in just 24 hours:

• Free Moe’s at the Town Hall!!
• Attention Graduating Students
• Buffalo Sabers – 1 TICKET LEFT
• Get Your Ticket to Up All Night: Dave & Buster’s!!
• Tonight! International Women’s Day Keynote Address

It’s enough to send a person over the edge. Think I’m being overly dramatic?

Couple bickering, in this case, over misuse of exclamation points. Photo courtesy Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum.
If I see one more exclamation point, I’ll … (Photo courtesy Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum)

In “Academic Stress of College Students: Comparison of Student and Faculty Perceptions,” Misra, McKean, West and Russo (2000) noted the following: “Faculty members’ accurate perceptions of student academic stress are important for effective communication with them.” Yet, why stop at faculty?

A good understanding of what creates saturation and of ways to thoughtfully approach communication with students would extend that responsibility to staff, club officers and others who disseminate information for student consumption. There wasn’t, for example, an “opt out” link posted in any of the emails I received from the Undergraduate Association (UA), Campus Activities Board (CAB) or Intramurals & Recreation Club.

To be fair, there was one included in an email I got from the Diversity Council via Nazareth Student Activities (re: Theatre of the Oppressed) and in the email about Int’l. Women’s Day. But, being a woman who prides herself on caring about issues of diversity and global concern, I couldn’t bring myself to opt out of either one. They weren’t the real offenders, anyway. I was disturbed by the messages which lured students in with CAPs, !!! and ???.

Circus act demonstrating balance. (photo courtesy Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)
If I can just find my balance, … (Photo courtesy Public Record Office of North Ireland on flickr)

That’s no way to talk to stressed-out students. And, believe me, we’re stressed out.

A few weeks ago I conducted an unofficial quantitative/qualitative survey called “Feeling Anxious?” I did so with help from the Nazareth College Office for Students with Disabilities. Roughly 36 percent of respondents were seniors, 21 percent were sophomores and another 21 percent were grad students, faculty or staff. The remainder were freshmen or sophomores.

The results of that survey and insights to be gained from Erika M. Hess, Director of the OSD, and Megan C. Papponetti, Asst. Clinical Director of Counseling Services, will appear in the next installment of Naz Girl About Town. For now, suffice it to say that the majority of students who avail themselves of anxiety-related services on campus already feel stressed, overwhelmed, fearful and alone. Not to mention depressed.

Why wouldn’t they be? Even “News in a Flush” has muscled in on the ALL CAPS action. According to one of their flyers (which you can find posted on the inside panels of many a bathroom stall around campus) March 15th—yes, today—is being hailed as “Take 15 Day.” What’s that? A day in which we’re asked, in ALL CAPS, to:


Celebrate 15 credits? No, thanks! I’ve got more than enough on my plate already.

A Real-Form Girldes Advertisement (courtesy Internet Archive Book Images on flickr)
Keepin’ it together. (Image courtesy Internet Archive Book Images.)

As Misra, McKean, West and Russo found (2000), in the work of Campbell and Svenson: “College students experience high stress at predictable times each semester due to academic commitments, financial pressures and (poor) time management skills. When stress is perceived negatively or becomes excessive, it can affect both health and academic performance.” Ways we cope include avoidance, disengaging and seeking out support.

Maybe that accounts for my foul mood and choice of topic. Rather than read my Naz email, I wanna forget that account even exists. Rather than engage in any of the activities being touted, I feel like running away. Rather than turn to UA, CAB or any other organization that’s vying for my attention, I want to sit down with someone who truly gets it. Is it just me? I think not.

Check back in two weeks, when I’ll present the results of my “Feeling Anxious?” survey. My goal will be to help you destress and not feel so alone in your suffering. Until then, stay well and do your best to not get freaked out by everything that’s coming your way. It can’t last forever, though it sometimes feels as if it might.

If you need help in the meantime, contact Counseling Services. (It’s free and confidential.)

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