End of the Semester Coping Skills

By Ashley Gilliam

I have a personal tendency as a pedestrian to walk directly into the pathway of cars. My friends often joke that it will be the literal death of me. I simply lack the fear necessary to keep me out of harm’s way. Stress, like fear, is a necessary part of life to some extent.

Without it, we would never meet our deadlines, but with it we can experience great distress. If we constantly feel as if cars are speeding towards us, it can become hard to prioritize more immediate concerns and react in the appropriate way.

The last few weeks of the semester can be an especially difficult and stress-inducing time. As a student who struggles with anxiety, I know this feeling all too well. In the same vein, I also have gained an intimate knowledge of coping skills to help with particularly trying times. There are a multitude of coping mechanisms you can employ to keep yourself from falling prey to negative thoughts and downward spirals.

The phrase “coping skills” may seem intimidating at first, but they don’t have to require a huge time investment. Often I will take a three minute break to breathe deeply. This is a period of time in the day to not do any work for others and allows my brain to sort of reset.

In the small moments, you can:

  • Listen to a song that you love or that relaxes you and just focus on it. I recommend this.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Journal for five minutes. Write down all the emotions you’re feeling to get them out.
  • Take a walk outside. Come back to your work afterwards with a fresh perspective.
  • Clean your workspace or room to let out the nervous energy and promote a better mood.
  • Watch an episode of a cartoon you loved as a kid.

Sometimes it’s the long stretches of time where we can’t stop thinking about our deadlines or procrastinating with Netflix that are particularly stress-inducing. If you need a longer break, you can do a number of relaxing activities.

Fun activities for the weekend:

  • Have a self-care night with friends.
  • If you carry stress in your body, get a massage at Preston. Students get a discount!
  • Volunteer at the humane society to walk dogs and/or pet cats.
  • Have a date night where you cook a healthy meal (or comfort food).
  • What did you do to cope with stress in the past? Did you draw, write poetry, play music? Try doing that now.

Sometimes these activities can feel like putting a band-aid on a larger problem. I often struggle with reaching out to those around me when I’m having a rough time, but your support system is vital to maintaining good mental health.

Don’t forget to ask for help:

  • Let your friends know when you’re emotionally or mentally taxed
  •  Schedule an appointment with the writing center
  • Go to professor’s office hours and ask them questions you have
  •  Request an extension in advance of the due date
  •  Find a mentor within your field who can help you with academic stresses and obstacles
  • Let a professor know if your mental or physical health is affecting your performance
  • Organize a study group. You can support each other and it makes studying more fun

Some of these may be relevant to you and your preferences, others not so much. The goal is for you to understand what changes in your behavior and feelings signal that you are becoming too stressed and to figure out what coping strategies are best for you to employ. For habits promoting self-care you can employ throughout the semester, check out another of our blog posts here.

If you have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and think you may have anxiety, do not be afraid to seek help. Talk to the Counseling and Testing Center. You can even request an emotional support animal attend your appointment. Star is a darling poodle and deserves all the love in the world.

 

Counseling

and Testing Center

Potter

Hall, 409

1906

College Heights Blvd #11024

Bowling

Green, Kentucky 42101

Phone:

270-745-3159

Fax:

270-745-6976

Email:

ctc@wku.edu

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Making Time for Self-Care in College

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 10.43.59 AMLast week, I was finally pummeled by the realization that we only have four weeks of school and so many assignments to finish within that short time frame. I decided I would tackle as much as possible, jumping in the arena with everything I had to do at once–smacking a paper here, shoving a reading there, stepping on the toes of assorted homework.

In the end, I was collapsed on the floor surrounded by the causes of my stress–and they were barely wounded.

Why do we do this? We think attacking everything at once will help us get done faster and break through to the other side of stress, but we exhaust ourselves until we’re sapped of strength.

Instead, wouldn’t it be far more effective to step into the arena with one issue at time? When that’s done, we take breaks, rehydrate ourselves, sleep. Only then will we be ready for the next thing.

It may seem like we don’t have time for rest, but we do. How often do we half-heartedly work on a paper while also trying to socialize or “rest”? We are barely productive and only feel more drained and incapable and guilty and stressed. (Or is this just me???)

No solution is one-size-fits-all. We all have different schedules. But I want to suggest something that has helped me.

First, do something you love every day–or think about something you love, or remind yourself of something you love, or talk to someone you love. Take a moment to remember that you are MORE than a student drilling out assignments. You are here because you want to be here. You are reaching a greater goal. But you are you, and, believe it or not, your health and relationships are more important than your grades.

Second, schedule time where you will not work on homework. It’s okay to do this! For instance, I have decided that I will wait at least an hour every morning before opening up my laptop or any books. Then when I do work, I will take a break every hour to eat, take a walk, stretch, etc. I will get as much done as I can, then I will be done with enough time to relax with my family before bed.

Again, this schedule may not work for you. On days when I have classes, this schedule doesn’t even work for me. The idea is to say no to homework and yes to you during some point of every day. Think about your homework as your job. Once you’re home, you’re home. No checking email. No answering phone calls. Just be present. You will feel more satisfied with the work you got done and more energized when you come back to it.

There is no shame in taking time for yourself and others. Let’s make this four weeks about more than just getting things done. Let’s enjoy ourselves, relax, and–hopefully–get the most out of the work we do.

 

Doing a final project instead of a final paper? The Writing Center can help!

Students tend to have the perception that the Writing Center is all about papers and essays, because, well, they’re the primary form of writing that we do in the academy. But while we’re here to help you develop and polish your essays, we can also help you with any writing you’re doing for your final, even if it’s not a formal essay.

Presentations and Speeches

If you’re giving an oral presentation, it may seem like you won’t be doing any writing–but you should. There is a reason that public figures like presidents have speech writers; speeches should be written before they’re given. Writing a script for your oral presentation can help you ensure that you stay on topic, address all of the relevant points and evidence related to your topic, and that you sound prepared, polished, and eloquent. Having a prepared script can help prevent mistakes or misused words and reduce the number of times you say “um” when standing up at the podium. You can bring in your script, just as you would a paper, and our tutors can help you polish your writing so your presentation is the best it can be!

Group Projects

Just because you’re working in a group doesn’t mean you can’t come to the Writing Center. Whether it’s a group paper or presentation (or both), you can schedule an appointment for your group, or just one member of your group to meet with a tutor. With papers and presentations with multiple authors, continuity between the work of different group members can often be an issue. A Writing Center tutor can help check for consistency and cohesiveness in co-written papers and projects, as well as the usual stuff: content, organization, citation, source integration, grammar and syntax, etc.

Need help with that final paper or project? We’re open during exam week! Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

Getting started at the end

By Abby Ponder

 

We’re nearing the end of the semester–or, more accurately, we’re barreling towards it at full speed–and it’s at this time of year that the panic sets in. You have a planner in front of you and a to-do list off to the side, but rather than making you feel organized and coherent, it’s just sending those stress levels skyrocketing because there’s so much to do.

That’s fair.

It’s even worse as a senior.

I am currently preparing to say my farewells to WKU as graduation looms a few mere yards away. Suddenly, I’m looking at an avalanche of things to do to help prepare for the transition from college student to adult in the real world.

It’s a lot–sometimes overwhelming. And, as a result, it might seem easy to let your papers slide and “come back to them later.”

Sure, it’s easy to do that.

But don’t.

This is your time to shine, my friends: to write that stellar final paper and look at how far you’ve come since that early lit review your freshman year. You know the one I’m talking about–the one with more comma splices and missing apostrophes than you care to admit. Furthermore, don’t you want to end your college experience with a paper you’re proud of, your last hoorah?

And you might be thinking that, sure, that all sounds well and good, but it’s so much easier said than done. And, honestly, I’d agree with you. Sometimes its hard to find that motivation when the senioritis kicks in.

my emotions

My advice? Look at the bigger picture. Look at that finish line.

The WKU Writing Center Blog has several pieces of advice that will help you on that journey towards knocking your final papers out of the park, too:

Above all else, though, have confidence in yourself and your writing.

And for all you folks who are graduating, congratulations! Best of luck as you move forward.

13789-parks_rec

Fun and helpful links: Finals week

By Abby Ponder

It’s both terrifying and exciting, but the semester is slowly but surely beginning to come to a close.

We’re almost there…

…but so are those paper deadlines.

Stay calm, though. We’ll get through this.

We’ve compiled a handy dandy list of links to help get you through this trying time. (Really, though, we have faith in you.)

  1. You need to outline your paper and don’t know where to start? Here’s an earlier post that covers just that!
  2. You’ve got the topic, the outline is finished, but you can’t seem to get in the writing zone. So, time to find a new writing place!
  3. But if you’re still struggling with procrastination, we’ve got just the post for you.
  4. Research is a critical component in an academic paper, so make sure to utilize the WKU Libraries.
  5. You’ve finally written that paper and now you need to edit it, so check out our post that offers some suggestions on that very topic.
  6. You need to cite your paper? The Purdue Owl is a fantastic resource for checking on the various citation styles, specifically MLA, APA, andChicago.
  7. You’ve turned the paper in and are dealing with professor or peer feedback. Now what?
And don’t forget, the WKU Writing Center is here with you every step of the way. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at (270) 745-5719 or shoot us an email at writingcenter@wku.edu. You can also stop by and see us in our Cherry Hall location (Cherry 123) from 9-4 or at the reference desk in the Commons from 4-9.

So, remember:

Photo credit to this tumblr account that also highlights some additional stress release tips for finals week.
Happy Writing!