Finals stress, comfort media and how to access it

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After a long day of school, work or any other aspect of “adulting,” I like to go home and turn on something to distract myself. “Gilmore Girls” is a show I like to distract myself with. The relatable characters, interesting storylines and funny quips create a world in that I can easily lose myself. I would say that my close connection with the show over the years has even influenced my life, possibly even influencing my love of writing and passion for journalism, which is a strong theme in the show.

Shows like “Gilmore Girls” can provide an excellent escape from reality for anyone suffering from anxiety and depression. It is up to each individual person to find their comfort media, which can be anything from TV shows, movies, social media, music, video games and reading. 

According to a Mayo Clinic article by Reese Druckenmiller, a recent study has found that 

“One in three college students experience significant depression and anxiety.”

As Dio Brando says in Part 1 of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” , “…being human has its limits,” meaning that we need to find a way to wind down and relax, college students especially. From financial worries to midterms and finals or recovering from last night’s hangover, comfort media could easily be the emotional Band-Aid that students reach for.

This means that they are the perfect candidates for investing time in finding and relying on their comfort media. However, actually finding the time, and having the means, can involve overcoming obstacles.

Social media, a favorite comfort media medium, is great for students since it is free. However, it can create a large time drain. There are also studies that show a link between social media and anxiety, depression and other mental health obstacles.  Ebony Houston, an event manager major at Chico State, says that their favorite comfort media is TikTok. 

“I’ve had TikTok since it was, but once it changed I started to like it,” Houston said. “I can go and watch for hours.” 

An Inside Intelligence article published earlier this year said that while there is a notable down-tick in the amount of time spent on the social platform TikTok, statistics say that people still spend around 40 minutes daily on the app. 

Houston also says that they always feel like they have time to spend on the app because they routinely consume the media after completing their “to-do list.”

However, time might be more fleeting than Houston thinks. Chico State says that you need to study for two to three hours for every hour of class that a student takes.

The university also estimates that a student will spend about 12-16 hours per week in class. This means that a student should be spending 24 to 48 hours per week studying. Spread out over a five-day school week, on average, a student should be spending seven to 13 hours per day in class and studying.

Most of us know that this isn’t exactly true. Some classes have a minimal workload, or don’t have a large amount of homework. However, some classes like those with labs, or science or art classes that require prolonged projects, can often have more than the two to three-hour homework average.

Between the hours logged for school, a part-time job, which can require one to 35 hours per week, sleeping and partying, that unfortunately doesn’t leave a lot of time to scroll through TikTok or other social platforms. The same is true for other media mediums. 

Even if you’re just spacing out to a movie or TV show, or playing a video game, time is a key component, as well as money. Buying video games, whether on Steam, Epic Games or some other platform, unless using a third-party platform to utilize deals, costs money. If you live in a dorm or with multiple roommates, space may be an issue as well. Your roommates may not be too thrilled when you spew profanities after losing to a boss for the fifth time.

Watching movies and TV shows can also present a problem financially. Meg Auzat, a sociology major at Chico State says that they often frequent platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and HBOMax — all of which cost money.

In an age where the average tank of gas in Butte County costs around the same amount as a grande Cafe Mocha at Starbucks, that $9.99 per month for Netflix’s basic plan can seem astronomical.

After stressing you out a little bit by discussing money and time management, I can ask you one question: How can you relax and consume my comfort media and not worry about time or money? For this question, I have multiple answers.

To tackle the financial side of the problem, life provides multiple loopholes. When it comes to streaming platforms, you could take on the laborious task of using a different email every 30 days to renew your Netflix free trial, or you could do some research on some bundle deals. Spotify offers a student bundle deal that includes subscriptions to Hulu and Showtime, as does Hulu, which includes subscriptions to Disney+ and ESPN. You can also use free platforms like Peacock, if you don’t mind ads. There are also more illegal and less ethical ways to watch your favorites, I’ll leave that research up to you.

You can do something similar to this regarding video games, you can always keep an eye on platforms like Steam to see when your desired games are on sale. If lack of space or roommate patience is an issue, Chico State opened a gaming lobby in Whitney Hall in September that includes PCs, consoles and arcade games.

For time management, ultimately the decision on how each person spends their time comes down to the individual. I often manage my time by multitasking, especially when it comes to consuming my comfort media. My friends and family often see me doing homework or basic chores with an airpod in my ear listening to music, another very important comfort media for me, with a movie playing in the background.

With finals week upon us, stress relief is essential. With so many resources at our fingertips, finding a way to consume that can comfort us should be easy, but sometimes it takes a little bit of research. With this knowledge, I hope you can move forward and remember to breathe and take the time to take care of yourself, good luck!

Ariana Powell can be found at [email protected].