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Ways to unwind during stressful finals season

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

With finals season approaching for students, stress can also follow and affect many aspects of our daily lives. Focusing on self-care and finding ways to unwind can help calm those pressures.  

Physical and emotional tensions often accompany the feeling of stress and can vary depending on the challenge you’re faced with. According to the Assistant Director of UH Wellness, Brittani Clarkson, stress can be positive or negative and can also be chronic or last for a short period. 

“At this point in the semester, students often place high expectations on themselves to do well so they become stressed and anxious trying to get everything finished in time,” Clarkson said. “While I can’t speak directly to any trends here at UH, there is data from the National College Health Assessment that says college students experience higher levels of stress and anxiety now than they did prior to the COVID-19 onset.”

It’s important to prioritize personal care before, during and after finals season as stress can impact our relationships and the quality of work we produce, Clarson shared. 

She added that taking time to relax in healthy ways improves how deadlines/workloads are handled, so they overcome you less.

There are many ways to wind down while faced with the anxieties that finals can bring along. Finding an activity that fits your needs is essential. 

“Some simple and easy ways to reduce stress include taking a walk across campus on a sunny day, listening to upbeat music, stretching/meditating/yoga, taking a quick nap, making a to-do list and crossing things off as you finish them,” Clarkson said. “Taking time to eat a balanced meal that includes fruit, vegetables, and proteins, and attending social events on campus. If these types of activities don’t help, we advise students to reach out to a mental health professional like the clinicians at CAPS.”

Students also shared the ways they plan on winding down this semester and having a stress-free finals season. Marketing senior Bethany Rodriguez shared that going outside more with her dog is a way to help her relax during stressful times. 

“Either that being going to a park or taking a walk in my neighborhood to get some fresh air,” Rodriguez said. “It truly helps me relax and forget everything else that I have going on, especially during finals.”

Some students practice a routine to deal with stress while still trying to balance school and their personal lives. 

“To cope with stress I unwind to practice meditation before bed or stretching,” said finance and marketing junior Sophie Doyle. “I also make sure I get a healthy balance between studying and or work and personal time. Whether that’s carving out some free time in the morning or before bed, or getting a workout in.”

UH Wellness and the Residence Hall Association will host its “Unwind with Wellness Wednesday: Destination Relaxation” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26. This event is held at the end of every semester to assist students who are experiencing stress. It will feature therapy dogs, DIY, massage therapy, music, food, and resource tables Clarkson said.

UH Wellness is available to assist students experiencing stress all year through their “Wellness Consultation” service, relaxation station events and weekly Unwind with Wellness on Wednesday program Clarkson added.

“There are plenty of healthy ways for students to relax to cope with stress this finals season. It’s all about finding something you enjoy, something that isn’t complicated and something that won’t cost too much time or money,” Clarkson said.  “Taking a calming walk through a park won’t magically erase all your stress but it can help to calm your feelings of anxiety so that you have more mental and emotional space to tackle your exams.”

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