The Overriding Stresses of College and Where to Decompress: Loyola Students Weigh in


By: Megan Nowezki (Loyola Sophomore)

Endless tests, piles of homework, increased responsibilities, being away from friends and family, building new relationships, navigating the roommate and dorm lifestyle, battling social media standards, and continuing to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19. 

These are just a few of the current issues college students face today.

Even though college can be the best time in a young adult’s life, after stripping away the fun aspects like partying and newfound freedom, it instead proves to be incredibly stressful. 

Recent studies show that 80% of college students experience frequent bouts of stress. Statistics also highlight the severity of this issue, revealing that anxiety and stress are the top two mental health concerns for college students. 

With numbers this high, universities have recognized a significant increase in students reaching out for help through counseling. 

In response to the evolving topic, more resources have been offered within schools and nationally. The National Alliance on Mental Illness organization and the National Safe Place hotline (1-888-290-7233) are just a few examples available for students across the U.S. 

Additionally, social media platforms, university websites, and health blogs provide a wide range of recommendations on how to decompress, including yoga, exercise, and meditation. 

With so many different options, it begs the question of which ones students actually participate in. 

Loyola University Chicago students are no exception to this pressing matter and were quick to talk about not only the obstacles that come with being a college student but also the unique places Loyola offers when feeling tense. One location was mentioned over and over again.

“Not much stresses me out,” Sophomore Ian Stagaman (19) said, “but when I am, I like to go to the IC [Information Commons] and act like I’m doing work, but I’m actually hanging out with friends.”

In addition to the IC’s friendly atmosphere, students also see the building’s coffee selection as a reason to relax there.  

19-year-old Freshman, Elizabeth Santiago said, “Right now honestly, my accounting class kind of stresses me out ‘cause she gives us a lot of work to do. I usually go to the IC because the Starbucks there hits different. My white chocolate mocha is so good there compared to everywhere else.”

The IC isn’t the only place on campus that offers a caffeine fix. Other students prefer to get theirs a little further away from the books. 

Chris Diaz, 20-year-old Junior said, “One thing that stresses me out is a large amount of homework. So I go to the cafe sometimes, grab a cup of coffee or something like that, and I de-stress.”

When a hot drink doesn’t do the trick, students find Loyola’s gorgeous views to be soothing.

Junior Alyssa Cruz (20) said, “There’s a lot of stuff that stresses me out: school conflicts that I can’t control, when I’m not in control, people, men, when I’m financially unstable, when I’m mentally unwell…yeah there’s a lot. So, I go over to the lake and I cry and I stare at the moon and I’m like, wow.”

Some students prefer to burn off steam through sweat instead of tears. 

James Hogan, 21-year-old Junior said, “Exams, when they overlap, stress me out. To decompress I go to Halas and lift heavy circles.”

Most students have taken advantage of places around campus, but a few have other solutions that are done in the comfort of their college dorm. 

Despite some issues with sharing a living space, first year Loyola student, Noah Wasek (19) said, “When I’m stressed out I like to stay in my dorm because I researched that blue light is helpful for stress relieving and I have a bunch of different lights so I turn them all blue. I just soak myself in the blue light and it calms me down.”

Although not every student at Loyola has the same idea of what the ideal relaxation environment is, most can agree Loyola provides a variety of options. Whether it’s venturing the towering IC, cozy cafes, and breathtaking lakeshore or just chilling in the dorms, there is a place on campus for every student.

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