In addition to the academic stress that comes with college, many students are struggling with the pandemic, racial injustice and personal relationships. With final exams around the corner, it’s helpful to remember the strategies that can contribute to your wellness and reduce the most toxic effects of stress.
Unfortunately, people often respond to stress by stopping or postponing the very things that help manage stress more effectively. Need to study for an exam? Sleep can wait. Need to finish a project? Never mind dinner. Feeling really anxious? No time for a walk or chat with friends.
At this late point in the semester, you may be feeling so overwhelmed that you’re considering counseling, Wellness Coaching or other services on or off-campus to support your mental health. Maybe you’ve realized it's time to get some professional assistance. The counselors at the Counseling and Wellness Center and Wellness Coaches at GatorWell encourage students to call or visit our websites to learn what’s available in the summer, as well as the types of support we provide to help you get to the Spring finish line.
We also want to remind you of the things you can do to support yourself, and how you can encourage your friends to do the same.
Consistent stress management practices can really help prevent or mitigate the effects of stress. Some of these include:
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
Fueling your body well with plenty of water and healthy meals and snacks
Moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day. This could be walking, running, dancing, lifting weights, swimming, playing sports, etc.
Staying connected to friends and family. It might be on Zoom or Facetime, but it could also be a socially distanced walk and talk outside with a roommate, classmate or friend.
These practices can help you maintain balance and keep things in perspective. Although school and academics are important to prioritize as the semester comes to an end, there are other aspects of who you are that need your attention and care as well.
Time management strategies can also help prevent stress. If you are managing your time well — including planning and prioritizing — you will likely experience less stress and better overall wellness as you get through finals. Head to the GatorWell Time Management Toolkit for some tips and tricks on how to overcome procrastination and manage your time. Lastly, we encourage you to remember the following to help you and your friends finish strong:
Remind yourself of your strengths, what you already know, and what you've accomplished in the past to keep you motivated and moving forward.
Focus on the positive – whether that is something you’re excited about over summer, the fact that a particular class will be done soon or that you've set a reward for yourself when you’re done with the semester.
Use what has worked in the past and use your resources. TAs, professors, Student Affairs staff and everyone else wants you to be successful and well, so reach out and get some extra support and connection.
Successfully making it to the end of the semester can be a stressful and overwhelming task. This kind of pressure can bring up experiences of past stressors and/or trauma. If there comes a point where these ways to support yourself are not enough, please reach out for 24/7 crisis support by calling the CWC at 352-392-1575. An on-call counselor can talk to you about immediate support, crisis management and options for ongoing services.
This article was a collaboration with GatorWell Wellness Coaches Samatha Evans and Jennifer Kennymore, and CWC counselors Savannah Tucker and Sara Nash.