Friday, August 18th, 2017

Advising Advice: How do you handle stress? The Wellness Center is here to help you

USM Website, The Well

Posted on May 04, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

By: Katie MacDonald, Contributor

As the Graduate Assistant for the Portland Wellness Resource Center, I often meet students who learned about the Well through their Advisors and are looking for assistance in decompressing from their busy academic schedules. As we approach finals week and graduation I can feel the electric energy building on campus.

Some are feeling excitement for what lies ahead, and others are experiencing stress, anxiety or a whole list of other emotions as the academic year comes to an end. While there is space for all of these emotions and feelings to exist, it is also important to make time to take care of yourself, which isn’t always easy to do.

Personally, my finals weeks are usually filled with late night study sessions, stuffing my face with any free food I can find on campus, and sitting at my laptop for hours on end. While I always survive the week, I often end the school year feeling drained– mentally, emotionally, and physically. And these habits don’t necessarily make this stressful time any easier for me.

Visit the Well in Portland or Gorham! We have tea, games, spaces to work, coloring and couches to lounge on– all students are welcome! In addition, there will be stress-busting events going on across campus. Follow us on Facebook: “The WELL at USM” to keep up to date about events and opportunities across campus.

Get outside! Research shows exercise (even as simple as taking a walk) can help increase your ability to concentrate. Meditate! Meditation has been shown to help with depression, insomnia and headaches. Meditation also enhances the immune system, which can help you stay healthy during these final exams. Rest! Sleep is crucial for your brain to recover, and helps you retain information. Give yourself time to reboot and re-energize.

Make a schedule! Planning exactly what you’re going to review or work on and when is so helpful in keeping yourself accountable, making your study habits effective and making sure you don’t stress too much. Laugh! Laughter boosts your endorphins and even curbs stress hormones. Unplug! Put away your phone while studying and turn off your wi-fi when you don’t need it so you’re not tempted to distract yourself. Better yet, disable your social media accounts, or have a trusted friend change your social media passwords until the study session (or the semester) ends.

For me, the key to surviving finals is finding a balance of work and play. Yes, school is important, and you want to do your best work for finals, but your health and wellness are more important. You are important, and you will make it through!

Katie is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Health, and will be graduating in May.