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.
and Testing Center
College Heights Blvd #11024
Green, Kentucky 42101