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Students Search for Balance

Students Wehmeyer (left) and Patrick (top right) study with friend Sara Melish. (Sara Borden)
Students Wehmeyer (left) and Patrick (top right) study with friend Sara Melish. (Sara Borden)

As week four of the semester passes, classes are in full swing with papers due, tests to take, projects underway, and books to read. Clubs of all kinds are active and athletes are training for their respective sports’ meets, matches, or games. Students are feeling the pressure of academic requirements, extracurricular activities, and the quest to find a proper balance between their responsibilities, social lives, and health needs.

Many students have expressed feelings of being overwhelmed, which they connect to the stress and anxiety of the new semester. Some students feel that they have already achieved a proper balance, having found a routine or groove that seems to work for them, while many others are still desperately seeking their own personal equilibrium.

“I spend most of my time studying,” senior Kat Wehmeyer said, adding that she sometimes feels anti-social. However, she found a working balance which includes a strong focus on her heavy workload, some socializing, and as much rest as possible. This balance is easier for her to maintain now that she is a campus resident, as opposed to being a commuter like she was last semester.

For Lorrie Patrick, a resumer sophomore who works a part-time job, the adjustment to Mills from community college was a struggle, but she is beginning to find her way. 

“Starting this week I’ve been utilizing my professors’ office hours,” Patrick said. “I wake up at the same time every day, so that helps, but I haven’t mastered going to bed at the same time every day. But it’s something I’m working on.”

As far as participating in extracurricular events at Mills, Patrick wants to get more involved with campus activities as part of the social aspect of her school life.

“It’s still a balancing act,” Patrick said. “I think my stress level fluctuates from day to day.”

First-year Cassandra Colten has found her own way of balancing her workload, which includes involvement in seven clubs. 

“I do yoga and then I listen to music and I play Candy Crush,” Colten said. “There’s enough exploding candy pieces to take your stress away.”

“I’m a little short on sleep right now, which is unfortunate, but I have a whole schedule planned out. Basically as long as I follow it I’ll be fine.” Colten also stated that she has a “self-imposed bedtime of 9 or 9:30.” Lately, she hasn’t always been able to stick to her set bedtime but feels that when she gets enough sleep and sticks to her schedule, she feels great. This is extra important because Colten wakes up daily for crew at 5 a.m. and was has seven crew practices in six days.

“There are crew people who live off campus and I’m in awe of them,” Colten said.

Those who commute seem to have a higher level of stress than those who live on campus. This is so for junior Ambyr Dawson, a transfer commuter. Dawson, who lives about 40 miles from campus, commutes along a route that can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.

 “I can’t afford to live around or on campus, so that makes it really difficult,” Dawson said. “Really the best resource at Mills being a commuter for me has been the Mary Atkins Lounge. I’ve really enjoyed that, it’s been a huge help.”

Dawson appreciates the full kitchen, cabinets to store food and snacks, and having a nice quiet place to study. “The best part are the showers and the lockers. They are incredibly helpful and convenient.” Dawson is often so exhausted by the end of a long day at Mills that sometimes she sleeps in her car nearby as opposed to commuting all the way home.

“The workload at Mills is overwhelming in and of itself, and there are resources for that at Mills, but they are really only accessible for those living on campus,” Dawson said. “When you are commuting you have an outside life, like work and family, which makes it difficult to take advantage of the things that are offered.”

Anne Staunton, Manager of Wellness & Community Outreach for The Division of Student Life, provided these tips for staying balanced and healthy:

1. Take care of yourself – Eat regular meals (and use your meals as a time to socialize), drink plenty of water, get exercise, good sleep, and be kind and nourishing to yourself and others.

2. Avoid risky behavior – Don’t smoke or drink too much, and stay out of toxic relationships.

3. Unplug – Get outside and do something physical instead of staying glued to your phone or computer all day.

4. “Right-size” your workload – Try new things but make sure not to take on more than you can handle; learn what works for you, say “no” to what doesn’t, and celebrate your accomplishments.

5. Ask for help if you need it and give help where you can – Contact Counseling & Psychological services at 510.430.2130 to schedule a visit if you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, homesick, sad or isolated, and try to keep things in perspective by speaking with friends or, if you’re a resident, your RA. Once you’ve found a balance, help others to maintain perspective!

6. Learn ways to manage your health – Attend wellness classes or activities to learn how to better manage your health. For more about Health and Wellness visit: and for classes, events, resources and more tips, visit:

Stay healthy, Cyclones!