Ask Adelle: Overcoming the Finals Frenzy
Adelle Zocher – Special to the Southern News
Alright readers, it is crunch time! Just about a month of classes left and most of us are both excited and stressed out—take a deep breath and relax. Read on to find out how wellness, counseling and other campus resources can help you de-stress and finish your semester successfully.
Counseling Services is located in Engleman Hall room B219, with a satellite office shared with the Wellness Center, which makes Schwartz 100 the place to be if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or in need of advice. As finals approach, it is easy to find ourselves falling into patterns of behavior that are less than ideal—late nights, not so healthy nibbling or drinking too much coffee. We all cope with our stress differently and we want to provide you with some strategies and resources to healthily manage your stress as your semester comes to a close.
One of the best ways to avoid stress is to get enough sleep. I know, easier said than done when you are pulling all-nighters to study for exams. The best remedy for this is to avoid procrastination, something that I am certainly guilty of myself. Keeping organized and ahead of your studying and assignments takes away much of the stress of finals. While it may not be possible to get your ideal eight hours, being proactive and prepared will ease your mind and leave you with more time to rest and recharge your body.
No one wants to hear it, but depending on coffee is a no-go if you want to avoid stress. Caffeine increases your heart rate and causes the body to produce adrenaline, the same chemical it releases when you are in danger. To counteract the effects of adrenaline, your body produces epinephrine and cortisol, hormones that you naturally produce when you are under stress, mimicking how you might feel when in danger or in a high stress situation.
Although it may help wake you up or give you a boost when studying late, overuse of caffeine can cause headaches, anxiety, diarrhea and nausea, sleeplessness and potentially long term consequences such as stomach ulcers. You should not consume over 200mg of coffee in a day—one eight ounce cup of coffee, the equivalent of a small at Dunkin Donuts, can have between 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. This means that a large iced coffee might pack well over the recommended 200mg.
Be aware that energy drinks may contain much higher levels of caffeine as well. Energy drinks are best to be avoided, as they have many chemicals and added ingredients that can have negative effects on your body. You might be surprised to find that getting enough rest and drinking plenty of water will leave you more energized and focused than a cup of coffee. There is no shame in enjoying your caffeinated beverages, just be aware of your intake and take particular care to remain hydrated—caffeine is actually more effective if you drink water along with it. Use with care and caution.
We all know that we need to eat a healthy diet, but this can feel impossible during the finals frenzy. Some people eat for comfort and others find that they are too stressed to eat at all. Remembering to properly nourish yourself is a recipe for success. If you are too busy for three square meals, try munching on five to six healthy snacks throughout the day: a low-fat yogurt, fruits and veggies, baked snacks and granola bars are all great options for keeping your energy up. Also avoid eating late at night, that 1 a.m. delivery pizza might seem like a fine idea, but in the morning you will feel sluggish and sleepy.
It is totally normal to feel stress and anxiety around this time. If you find that you are unable to cope with the pressures of finals or are dealing with any mental health issues, counseling is right here for you. Here are some of the many resources you can utilize to keep you less stressed and on the path to success:
- The Zen Den Meditation Room, open Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Thursday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Zen Den has become an extension of Denise’s Mindful Series so that students have a space for quiet reflection and meditation and is located in Schwartz 100
- The Meditation Club, which meets Monday from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. in ASC room 303.
- Pet Therapy dogs, on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Schwartz 100. Every semester during the week before finals we expand this event, where 10 to 15 therapy dogs visit students in the Farnham Programming Space. This semester it will be held on Monday, May 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Free Yoga with Denise Zack on Tuesday and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the ASC Fitness Center.
- 8 week mindful life coaching series with Zack each spring and fall. She incorporates a number of different meditation practices to help students learn how to take charge of their stress.
- Counseling Services, located in Engleman Hall room B219, can be reached at (203) 392-5475. Their on call hours are Monday through Friday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with regular hours from Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
SCSU wants you to maximize your potential, with our homepage stating that “student success at Southern goes beyond the classroom.” This includes six dimensions of wellbeing which work together to keep you as healthy, productive and successful as you can be—academics, community, cultural, financial, health and social. Remember, true wellness is a result of the synergistic relationship between these dimensions. Each aspect of your life will be richer if you nurture the others— it is difficult to be successful academically if you are physically or mentally unhealthy. It is difficult to feel at home on a college campus if you do not feel a sense of community and security. Remember Southern is here because of us—the students. When we succeed, the university succeeds. As always, stay safe, stay healthy and be well!
Photo Credit: Jessica Roginski