Jumping off Maytum Hall

This is the time of year–the last two weeks of school–when students joke about jumping off of Maytum Hall (the tallest building in Chautauqua County). The school work has been piled on and stress levels are high.

First, let’s be clear: suicide has actually happened this way in other parts of the country. Students can become so stressed that they see it as the only alternative. You could do a Google search and come up with several examples if you were so inclined, but I don’t recommend it.

Though I don’t know of anyone who has committed suicide at Fredonia, I must put this out there: students can call University Police in the event of an emergency at 673-3333 to be directed to Counseling Center emergency services. Outside of an emergency, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor in LoGrasso Hall by calling 673-3424.

If you’re not a student at Fredonia, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1 (800) 273-8255, available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, in both English and Spanish. I also recommend Tim Ferriss’s article “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide,” which chronicles his experience coming back from the edge as a stressed-out student.

Now, assuming you’re not actually going to jump off Maytum Hall, here are a few points, starting with an interesting anecdote:

* Today I’m getting a major paper back in my Victorian Literature class. I’m only taking the class for fun, so it doesn’t matter if I get an ‘A’ or an ‘F’, yet I’m still nervous about seeing the result. Twenty years of school has created a habit of being stressed by judgement. It’s entirely possible that your stress is only a habit rather than a necessary reaction to what’s happening around you.

* Sleep. Psychologists often say they don’t mind if their patients oversleep because it’s the body’s way of dealing with too much stress. I’ve taken this to heart, and now every athlete who walks into the weight room records how many hours they slept last night. If that number is consistently low we have a conversation about it. I understand if you occasionally need to forego sleep, but do not make it a habit. Sleep becomes more important with increasing stress.

* Focus. Put your phone on airplane mode. Get away from the TV. Turn your computer’s wifi off. Get into an environment where you do your best work, and relentlessly get it done. A great stress reliever is actually getting your work done, rather than thinking about getting your work done.

* Do your very best, then let go of the result. And as always, reach out to me if there’s anything I can do for you.

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