Bonaventure students know how to handle their sadness. Some tips to follow

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.—Phone in her hand and dorm key on a wristband, Sinead Coleman runs toward the Allegheny

Sinead Coleman . photo taken by me . what Coleman uses to keep her grip:

River Valley Trail on the west side of St. Bonaventure University by the tennis courts.

Bundled in a hoodie, yoga pants, ear warmers and gloves, her snow-treaded running sneakers grip the path.

No friend by her side, no headphones blasting music, Coleman, 19, says she listens to her breathing.

She uses a yoga technique—big breath in, very slow breath out—says the sophomore biology major.

One of Coleman’s best friends told her that she would move away from home soon.

With tears held up inside, Coleman runs.

Charles Walker in his office . photo taken by me

Americans have difficulty dealing with sadness, says social psychologist Charles Walker, a professor at Bonaventure. They want to escape this natural human emotion by doing something to avoid thinking about it and to gain control.

Aja Wzientek, 19, a sophomore education major, says that she has a punching bag at home that she uses to release her sadness and anger. Any kind of muscle movement or sport makes her feel better. Sometimes, she will play basketball by herself for two hours.

Running and other forms of exercise act similarly to how antidepressants function, says Joel Benington, the neurobiology professor at Bonaventure.

Medications such as Prozac block brain cells from absorbing serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Therefore, more serotonin remains in between the neurons. Doing this seems to alleviate depression, Benington says.

In animal studies, researchers have found that motor activity is correlated to high levels of serotonin, says Benington, making exercise a natural and free antidepressant.

Walker says exercising moves blood to the head and into the central nervous system, which tends to elevate a person’s mood.

Sophomore sport studies major Elisha Darby plays her iTunes. She listens to slow, typically sad songs, such as “Better in Time” by Leona Lewis, for most of a day. She can relate to the singer’s words, she says.

Walker says listening to music can act as a “phantom social support.” Listeners identify their situations with that of the singer’s. However, this cannot beat actual friends.

Zoe Findlay, a sophomore, says she locks herself in her fourth-floor Doyle Hall room at Bonaventure and ignores everyone.

After sitting alone for about 30 minutes, Findlay says she calls her best friend who lives in Indiana.

For about an hour, the psychology major tells her fellow Scottish friend the entire situation that had upset her. After the call, Findlay stays by herself for about a half hour longer and then puts her happy face back on.

Those dealing with sad or stressed feelings should not isolate themselves and retreat from friends, says Walker. A social support system, in which someone listens, helps control uneasy feeling such as sadness. People go to therapy, resembling a surrogate friendship, for the same reason people should go to friends.

Abhimanyu Aggarwal . photo taken by me

Abhimanyu Aggarwal, 19, does not talk to anyone but does not actively ignore anyone either. Instead, the bioinformatics major says he takes a nap. He sleeps for about two hours. When he wakes up, busy Aggarwal, inevitably late for a meeting, forgets about his sadness.

Running to his meeting worries him instead of what he had dwelled on earlier that day. As long as he stays occupied, the sophomore says his sadness quickly dissipates.

Benington hypothesizes that a lack of sleep can cause sadness. After napping, sleep-deprived college students will feel better.

Aggarwal says he gets about eight hours of sleep per night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need about nine hours of sleep per night. A poll suggests that a lack of sleep affects mood. Out of the teenagers that reported feelings of sadness or depression, 73 percent of them said they did not get enough sleep each night and felt tired during the day.


Sophomore chemistry major Deena Butryn pops in an I Love Lucy DVD, cries

Deena Butryn . photo taken by me

and falls asleep for a few hours. Butryn, 19, says she only gets five hours of sleep a night, four hours short of the recommended night’s sleep. When she wakes up, she feels better.

Breath in, slow breath out.

Coleman focuses on herself and her current surroundings. Snow building up, she runs back toward Bonaventure. She realizes the transience of her sadness. Coleman says she will cope with her friend moving away.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great story Sam! It all came together nicely. Hopefully someone reads this and takes a new look at how they deal with their sadness.

  2. Great job Sam!!! I hope we didn’t come off as too depressing lol.

  3. I like this. Which story was it? I love love love the part about Sinead running. You’re so eloquent.


    P.S. I bookmarked your blog in my browser. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Emilee!! This was my story “FOUR” for class. Love your blog, as well!

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