Small Ways to Manage Stress During Finals

1. Take Everything One Step at a Time 

While making a list of things you have to do can bring a sense of control and order, don't let the potentially long list intimidate you. Focus all your energy on a singular task in front of you so your focus won't drift to the other projects you have to get done (which can cause you to worry and procrastinate.) 


2. Look at these Calmings Gifs 

These smooth, repetitive, movements can bring a sense of calmness to those that watch them. These gifs slow down our erratic eye movement and force us to follow fish, steam from tea, a paintbrush, calming our eye movement and thus our anxiety. This technique of relating eye movement to anxiety is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a disputed form of anti-anxiety relief. However, some people find great relaxation with it. So give it a try, look at these peaceful gifs and see if it works for you. 

3. Coloring Books

It's becoming more and more popular for therapists to suggest coloring books to adults to manage stress and anxiety. What was once thought of as an activity to keep children busy and creative now serves to calm adults too. Coloring book companies are cashing in on this new trend and have created some truly breathtaking coloring book designs. Some adult coloring books have intricate mandalas, enchanted forests, and even fandom coloring books from the likes of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars. 


4. Journaling 

Getting your anxious thoughts out of your head, even if just on a sheet of paper meant for you eyes only, has proven benefits. When you talk or write about your feelings, it releases the intensity of said feeling. It can also help you solve problems more effectively, because you see your problems from a new perspective once you've written them down. Grab an old notebook, rant on the back of your bio notes, or open up a new Word document: Give it a shot and let your feelings fly. 


5. ASMR 

Put on some headphone and wait for those relaxing tingles to fill your head and chase away the stress. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is described as "a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head and scalp, shimmies down the spine and relaxes the entire body." This relaxing feeling can be triggered by a number of sounds, and is different for everyone. Simply search ASMR on YouTube and find videos of people whispering, tapping desk, crinkling paper, scratching boxes, and wiping surfaces, all for the purpose of creating a sound to trigger that stress-releasing feeling to the listener.

Here is an introduction to ASMR from YouTubes's most popular ASMR channel, GentleWhispering. 


6. Breathe 


The simplest and immediate way to calm down: take a few deep breaths to tell your body to chill out and still the body's fight-or-flight reaction. Try inhaling and exhaling in time with this gif to calm your nerves and get a better grasp of yourself. 


If the stress or anxiety gets to be too much to handle on your own, or if you notice a friend is struggling, contact the University Counseling Center (walk-in hours are M-F 10AM-5PM) to talk with a professional and get the help you need. 

Good luck with finals, everyone!