The Exam Experience

The pre-exam shuffle has enough hype to leave virtually every college student rattled. Perhaps you are noticing your nervous energy manifesting as stress or anxiety. Maybe things have escalated as far as panic or anxiety attacks. 

We want to take a moment to validate those feelings. Stress and anxiety are often a part of the human experience, yet we understand that normalizing the experiences of stress and anxiety doesn’t make it any easier to live it out. 

We want to invite you to press pause, notice the sensations of stress and anxiety in your body, and acknowledge that this is a hard season of life. Take this moment to educate yourself about your emotions and acquire some resources to use as coping skills during this difficult time. 

Stress vs. Anxiety

Mental Health First Aid informs us that “although stress and anxiety share many of the same emotional and physical symptoms – uneasiness, tension, headaches, high blood pressure and loss of sleep – they have very different origins.”

“Generally, stress is a response to an external cause, such as a tight deadline at work or having an argument with a friend, and subsides once the situation has been resolved. Because stress is caused by external factors, tackling these head-on can help. If you’re experiencing prolonged, chronic stress, there are many ways to manage and reduce your symptoms, including physical activity, breathing exercises, adequate sleep and taking time to connect with others.

“Anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress; its origin is internal. Anxiety is typically characterized by a “persistent feeling of apprehension or dread” in situations that are not actually threatening. Unlike stress, anxiety persists even after a concern has passed. In more severe cases, anxiety can escalate into an anxiety disorder, the most common mental health issue in the U.S. Anxiety disorders are classified in a variety of ways: generalized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

Being able to label your experience as “stress” or “anxiety” is a great way to show yourself compassion and grace. Furthermore, having the self-awareness to know whether you are feeling stress or anxiety may help put you on the right path to getting the help you need to be the healthiest version of yourself. 

Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack

According to Medical News Today, “the terms panic attack and anxiety attack are used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Key characteristics distinguish one from the other, though they have several symptoms in common. These types of attack have different intensities and durations. Panic attacks are generally more intense than anxiety attacks. They also come on out of the blue, while anxiety attacks are often associated with a trigger.”

Medical News Today offers the following strategies for coping with a panic or anxiety attack:

Acknowledge what is happening

“The symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack can be extremely frightening. Acknowledging the situation and remembering that symptoms will soon pass can reduce anxiety and fear.”

Breathe slowly and deeply

“Difficulty breathing is among the most common and alarming symptoms of these types of attack. To slow breathing down, focus the attention on the breath. Inhale and exhale at a slow and steady rate until symptoms subside. Count to four during each inhalation and exhalation.”

Try relaxation techniques

“Methods of relaxation, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, can reduce feelings of panic and anxiety. A person can learn these techniques online or by working with a qualified therapist.”

Practice mindfulness

“Mindfulness helps people to stay grounded in the present moment. It can be especially beneficial for people with anxiety, who tend to worry about perceived and potential stressors. Practice mindfulness by actively noticing thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judging or reacting to them.”

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321798.php#what-should-i-do-during-an-attack

Thank you for pressing pause with us as we explored stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks. We hope that you continue to practice self-compassion in this busy time and find some peace by being kind to yourself in this moment of suffering. 


Have a question you want to ask or a topic you want to suggest? Email us at presspause@hope.edu.

Sleep, snooze, and slumber

We’ve all heard many sleep facts about both the benefits of a full night’s rest and the detriment of deprivation. We know that our performance in class, work, and athletics will improve when we catch more Zzzs. Yet we constantly disregard our need for some shut eye, knowingly compromising our health and memory. 

“I don’t have time to sleep,” we reason. “I’m too busy for that.”

“I function better off of four hours anyway.”

Right? Wrong. 

As a college student, we need as much sleep as we can get! It’s time to stop the excuses, cut ties with taking pride in sleeping so little, and press pause for some real rest. 

SCHEDULE YOUR SLEEP

We make time to get our homework done and we are capable of turning in assignments before the Moodle deadline. It’s time to take that same diligence to your sleep schedule. If you use a planner to keep yourself organized, consider writing down what time you need to go to bed each night to get enough rest. When we schedule sleep, we make it a non-negotiable priority. 

SKIP THE SOUND

Try using ear plugs to avoid the noise of your residence hall. An eye mask is also a good idea to block out light. Ear plugs and eye masks are important because even if you don’t fully wake up, research is revealing that sound and light can arouse you slightly and negatively affect sleep cycles (https://amerisleep.com/blog/sound-impacts-sleep-cycle/).

SHUT DOWN
It’s not just about calming down your mind with some mediation or mental imagery before bed. Turn off your phone and computer too. Set an alarm on a clock or watch to help avoid the temptation of leaving on your phone at night. 

Interested in learning more about sleep? The CAPS Honest Conversation is about sleep this month! It’s on Tuesday, November 19 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm in the Schaap Auditorium of the Bultman Student Center.

You can also check out the Press Pause posters about sleep, as well as some of our favorite sleep sources!

https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510336/sleepbetter

Have a question you want to ask or a topic you want to suggest? Email us at presspause@hope.edu

Tips for a Safe Halloween

As we approach the Halloween festivities, we invite you all to take a moment to press pause and mindfully make decisions that will be both fun and smart. We asked Liz Kubias, Assistant Director of Student Life, for some tips and tricks for a safe Halloween. Here’s what she has to say:

Growing up, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. There was the opportunity to carve pumpkins, the Halloween parade at school, Trick-or-Treating around the neighborhood, and of course dressing up in a fun costume.

As I’ve gotten older and have worked on a few different college campuses, I’ve realized that Halloween can also hold a lot of risk! For example, the National Safety Council states people are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween night than on any other day of the year.

In order to have the best Halloween possible, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Stay alert! This could be while you’re crossing the street, or as you’re walking around; be aware of your surroundings and know where you’re going. If you get lost, find a well-lit location to map out directions, or hop on the Hope shuttle (it’s free).
  • Look out for those around you. If you’re worried about someone’s safety-tell them. If you see something suspicious call Campus Safety or 911.
  • If you’re going to be trick-or-treating, go with people you know and know the neighborhoods you’d like to visit beforehand. Holland trick-or-treating is from 6-8pm.
  • Think about your costume – does it perpetuate stereotypes, or appropriate a culture? Does it have anything that could be used as or perceived as a weapon? Is it making fun of people, events, or place? If so, press pause, reflect on the message your current costume conveys, and work with a trusted friend to come up with another costume.
  • Lastly, if you choose to go out and consume alcohol, know that Hope College wants you to come home. Check out the Bystander Medical Exception Policy for more info!

If you’re looking for something fun to do on campus, on October 30th, head over to the Southside Spookfest: Scott Hall for Trick-or-Treating from 8-8:30pm, or Kollen Hall for a Haunted House from 8-10pm. On Halloween night SAC will be hosting a Halloween-themed Coffeehouse, filled with a costume contest, snacks, and music from 9-11pm in the BSC Great Room

I hope you have a fun-filled and safe Halloween!

Have a question you want to ask about Tips for a Safe Halloween or a topic you want to suggest for a blog post? Email us at presspause@hope.edu.

Domestic Violence Awareness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Domestic violence includes behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

The American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (ACHA NCHA) survey in 2017 revealed the following information about Hope College students:

  • 11.2% were sexually touched without consent
  • 3.2% were victims of stalking
  • 8.4% were in emotionally abusive relationships
  • 0.9% were in physically abusive relationships 
  • 2.1% were in sexually abusive relationships
  • 9% identified that their academics were impacted by relationship difficulties

We pressed pause to dive deeper into this concept of intimate partner violence by interviewing Hope College’s Victim Advocate and Prevention Educator, Christian Gibson. Here’s what she had to say:

Why is Domestic Violence Awareness relevant to Hope students?

“This is a great question. I think often what happens when we hear terms like ‘domestic violence,’ our minds jump to the news, or statistics, or even scenes in movies that we’ve seen that showcase a man beating up his wife or girlfriend.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and this kind of violence is real), it can be our way of distancing ourselves from the issue. In my time working with college-age students, I have found that the more education students have received about the relationship spectrum and what healthy relationships actually look like, the more awake they are to how close they are to the issue. We all have loved ones that have been a part of unhealthy or even abusive relationships, and we all want to be a part of relationships that are healthy, fun and lifegiving.”


What does domestic violence look like in college-aged relationships? 


“I often refer students to the College Power and Control Wheel to help them identify whether or not their relationship may have an imbalance of power  and control, and how that control can play out in the college context. Working with students at Hope, I have observed that a lot of unhealthy dynamics come from a fear of confrontation, particularly in-person confrontation. Our phones and social media have made it increasingly easy to avoid hard conversations and build skills that can lead to honesty and vulnerability, two key components of healthy relationships! To that end, it is important that students press pause emotionally before responding to something difficult over text, take a deep breath and hit ‘call’ instead. Or better yet, offer to meet up in person!”

Below we have listed some resources regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. Whether you are in need of help now or simply want to increase your awareness, we want you to know that you are not alone. The abuse is not and will never be your fault. There is help here at Hope College and in the Holland Community. 

Resources at Hope College:

  • Christian Gibson, Victim Advocate
  • Sara Dorer, Title IX Coordinator
  • Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Campus Ministries
  • Campus Safety

Resources in the Holland Community:

  • Resilience
  • YWCA

Resources online: 

  • One Love Foundation
  • Love is Respect
  • MaleSurvivor
  • No More
  • RAINN
  • 1 in 6

On Domestic Violence:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Books: 

  • No Visible Bruises – What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • Goodbye, Sweet Girl – A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg
  • Leaving Dorian – A Memoir of Hope by Linda Dynel
  • The House on Sunset – A Memoir by Sarafina Bianco

Movies/TV Shows:

  • Big Little Lies (HBO Series)
  • ‘Til Death Do Us Part (2017, PG-13)
  • Reviving Ophelia (2010, TV-14)
  • Surviving R. Kelly (2018)

Resources:


https://www.thehotline.org/

https://www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence

https://ncadv.org/

On Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact, including rape, that happens without your consent. Sexual assault can include non-contact activities, such as someone “flashing” you (exposing themselves to you) or forcing you to look at sexual images.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Books:

  • Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
  • Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding
  • Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence by Lisa Factora-Borchers
  • Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus by Vanessa Grigoriadis
  • We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out by Annie E. Clark & Andre L. Pino

Movies/TV Shows:

  • Unbelievable (2019)
  • The Hunting Ground (2015)
  • Audrie and Daisy
  • Anita: Speaking Truth to Power
  • I Am Evidence

Resources:

https://www.rainn.org/

https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape/sexual-assault

https://www.nsvrc.org/

https://mcsr.org/home

Have a question you want to ask about Domestic Violence Awareness or a topic you want to suggest? Email us at presspause@hope.edu.

Staying SMART

As you’ve set your SMART goals for the school year and are launching into the full swing of the semester busyness, remember to frequently press pause to evaluate if you are still centering yourself around dreams that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

When you find that you have faltered from your goals, greet yourself with compassion and grace. You are a human being and it is okay to make mistakes. Be persistent and gentle as you put yourself back on track to being the best version of yourself you can be.

Press Pause and Be SMART

For SMART September, we asked career counselor Amy Freehafer to share her wisdom about goal setting. Freehafer works in the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career and is passionate about serving Hope students. Here’s what she has to say:

Profile photo of  Amy Freehafer

SMART Goals are designed to provide structure and guidance throughout a project. But what if you were that project? What if you “Press Pause” so you can set SMART goals for your personal health the way you take time to set them academically and professionally? While this is a great template for goal setting, we often forget to use it when setting personal goals for health and wellness. Maybe thinking about these steps in this way will help:

Specific – What is one thing you know you should do or do more of to improve your overall wellness? (Not what you think others would select but what you KNOW will help you personally)

Measurable – Is it something you can easily identify improvement/success and how will you know? (Set targets that you can hit on the path so you can see your forward movement)

Achievable – Is it realistic? Should you be less aggressive initially so you set yourself up for success? (While you may want to achieve the moon, it is not realistic so baby steps can be important to successful change)

Relevant – Will this truly positively impact your health and be something you know you need? (Select something personally relevant to you, something you know will help you today, tomorrow and the next)

Time Based – How long will you reasonably give yourself to achieve or reevaluate this goal? (Keep in mind it takes minimally 30 days of daily intent to set a new habit)

Taking time to set SMART goals for our personal health is so important. If you are not being SMART personally, you will have a difficult time being SMART academically and professionally. Learning to have SMART balance in your life now can lead to a lifetime of healthy and successful goal setting and attaining.

“Press Pause” and take time for yourself academically, professionally, and personally. Your mind and body will thank you!

Have a question you want to ask about SMART goals or a topic you want to suggest? Email us at presspause@hope.edu.

Orientation Presses Pause

Despite the busyness that comes with the start of a new school year and a fluster of fall activities, our Orientation Team has taken a moment to “press pause” and welcome the incoming freshmen and new students to this campus community. They’ve even slowed down enough to take the time to share with us what Press Pause means to them. Here’s what Caleb, Kayla, and Sara have to say.

“I think that for me, Press Pause is important because it is a reminder of the importance of self-control. It means knowing when and where to set your boundaries. I also believe that it can go even further from self-control to the idea of integrity, which means staying true to the beliefs each individual person has. Press Pause means taking a second to stop, think, and evaluate whether a decision you are about to make holds up with who you are and who you want to be. It’s not about saying no to everything either. Press Pause can mean seeing something wrong and deciding to confront the problem. Ultimately, it is this consistent intentionality that creates the largest positive impact in our lives and the lives of those around us.” -Caleb

“Throughout my lifetime, I have always done things based on my gut reaction. I have found that more often than not, my gut tends to be right. Press Pause reminds me to take the time to stop and listen to my gut. I have found myself in situations where I felt like I knew what was going to happen. I sometimes find myself sometimes saying, ‘I should have listened to my gut.’ I think typically we know what the right thing to do is but it’s easy to get wrapped up in whatever is going on in front of us. It is extremely important to stop, take a minute, and think about what is best for you.” -Kayla

Press Pause is a really important concept to me because I think people, including myself, sometimes make decisions without thinking about potential consequences that can follow. Press Pause is about taking a second to examine all the choices a situation can offer and allowing time to think through each choice and make the one that is most beneficial to oneself and others around. I think “press pause” also has to do with maintaining integrity and character in all circumstances. “Pressing pause” allows an individual to make decisions that they will not later regret and decisions that hold true to their character. “ -Sara

We appreciate the wisdom and heart that Caleb, Kayla, and Sara have shared with us in the way they have incorporated Press Pause into their lives and are sharing this with our new Hope students. Let us continue to be intentional and full of integrity as we press pause in our everyday lives.

Sneak Peek into the Semester

I had hardly read past the firetruck-red cover of Jean M. Twenge’s book when I felt the alienating feeling of defensiveness flush through me. The title itself was enough to put me on edge. iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy– and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us. “Is Dr. Twenge really suggesting that I am less rebellious, less happy, and less prepared for life?” I scoffed to myself.

Pushing aside my initial reaction of opposition, I kept reading to learn that, yes, Dr. Twenge is including me, including all of us, in this ominously negative ensemble called iGen. “They were born after 1995,” Twenge writes. “They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. They are obsessed with safety and fearful of their economic futures, and they have no patience for inequality based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. They are at the forefront of the worst mental health crisis in decades… Teens are physically safer than ever, yet they are more mentally vulnerable” (3). 

As she unpacks her data drawn from more than 11 million respondents and over multiple decades, Twenge explores the psychology of the iGen’er in various contexts and caveats. She dives into the lifestyle patterns, behaviors, attitudes, and the implications of the internet and social media on mental health. She appeals to parents, educators, and employers to understand us despite generational divides in order to interact with us successfully. 

Though there is much merit in the pursuit of understanding us, an arguably more pertinent issue is that we understand ourselves. Hope College’s student-led initiative Press Pause is here to give us the tools to do just that. Based on the 2017 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA NCHA) survey data, Press Pause plans to bring students information regarding their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. 

To kick off the second year of the Press Pause campaign, you can expect blog posts from both myself and wellness experts, print materials throughout the campus, and a new common language about what it means to “press pause” and take care of yourself. Here’s a sneak peek into the Fall 2019 Semester: 

September: S.M.A.R.T. Goals

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

November: Sleep

December: Stress Management

As you gear up to come back to campus, give yourself a moment to “press pause,” pay attention to your head and your heart, and feel energized for this new year to learn and grow. Let’s show Dr. Twenge that we are completely prepared for this life because we are intentionally practicing what it means to “press pause” every day.

Stand and Stare

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

That’s a nice idea, I thought instantaneously as I scrolled to the next thing on my feed, not registering the words under my fingertips. My mind was in every place yet no place… that party last night, the subsequent gossip, the stats test on Monday… I yawned as my eyelids grew heavy. The rest of me was numb. I was disengaged from life and my motions were menial. I closed the app, looked around my dorm room weakly, and, almost without a thought, reopened the same app, refreshing the feed as if a new post from the past three seconds could entertain me out of oblivion. 

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

The same message blinked at me from my fluorescent phone screen. I blinked back. I don’t have time to stand and stare, I scoffed, ticking down my list of commitments. My social work and Spanish classes. The cross country and track team. Mellon Scholars. My off-campus job. And, most recently, I accepted the position as the student intern for the Press Pause campaign. Yup, I sleepily thought, submitting to my drooping eyelids, too busy for that nonsense. I drifted to sleep, allowing my brain to enter a withdrawn state. Yet, somehow, the message burned in my mind. 

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

A small part of the crowded and loud place that is my mind struggled against my endless thoughts for undivided attention. I tuned into its jeering. Hannah, it reminded me, press pause. With a start, I snapped awake, blushing at the irony of my own negligence to slow down when I myself am the one promoting Hope College’s wellness initiative. With this responsibility and privilege comes my personal commitment to slowing down enough to notice the choices I’m making, the relationships I’m building, the thought patterns I’m leading.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

I permitted the line to consume my mind fully, mediating on its words and wondering what it might mean in the Press Pause campaign. It could seem self-indulgent to stand and stare in self-care. It might seem like a lost cause attempting to rewrite the social norms around drug and alcohol use. Awareness and personal wellness may seem frivolous when we have the stress of school and careers to attend to. Yet I opened the app again, this time allowing myself to read the entirety of the poem “Leisure” by William Henry Davies. As I read the final line, I was again struck by the urgency carried in these simple words. With conviction, I realized it’s time to drop the excuses and commit to a better way of living. 

“A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

The Fear of Moving On

If there is any universal truth I have heard from my fellow soon-to-be graduates, it is that the prospect of leaving this place is daunting at best, and terrifying at worst. That isn’t to say that there aren’t many people who are prepared to leave; there are many who are excited to. It is not the leaving that is scary, but the part that comes after leaving; the “real” world.

If you’re feeling stressed, don’t worry; it’s not just you. According to the Chicago Tribune, post-graduate depression is quite common. And there are many concrete reasons for this. Mainly, the drastic change in purpose and routine, the stress of entering the workforce, and the loss of a tight-knit community. It can also bring sadness and depression on the opposite end of the spectrum; leaving college can be disheartening if you realize you didn’t quite have the college experience you wanted.

Don’t let this bring you down even more, though. There are several step you can take to help alleviate some of these symptoms.

Deactivate your social media for a while.
Social media may be a fun way to pass the time, but it isn’t doing your mental health any favors. A study by the University of Pittsburgh found a link between high rates of depression and high rates of social media use. Researchers hypothesize that it has something to do with the augmented reality people can create using social media; seeing other people put up a facade that they have it all figured out makes us feel worse when we don’t.

Find an outlet for your passions.
One of the amazing things about college is that you spend so much time doing work that is meaningful to you. You take classes that interest you, and most likely you do an extracurricular that *sparks joy*. However, leaving college can be quite different; most people aren’t scoring their dream job right after graduation, and that means working in an environment that can be quite understimulating and passionless. Whether it’s joining a band, attending classes in the community, or volunteering with a cause you love, try and find something that brings you joy. It might bring you passion and ground you during your transition into post-grad life.

Seek professional help.
You might not be able to shake a period of depression on your own, and that’s ok. Seeing a therapist, even if only for a few sessions, can help you work through some of those emotions that are keeping you down. And, you might find that therapy is a long-term treatment that significantly improves your mental health. If you’re looking for a therapist, try this search engine from Psychology Today, or search your insurance company’s website if you have health insurance. Don’t give up hope if therapy seems too expensive or out of reach; many therapists provide low to no cost options for people without insurance, or whose insurance does not cover therapy.

As you embark on this new journey, try to enjoy it! Change is scary, but also rewarding and fun. And know that wherever you end up, you have a community you met at Hope that you can rely on for support.

Have a question you want to ask, or a topic you want to suggest? Fill out this form, or email us at presspause@hope.edu.