Counseling Services

SOS Finals and Holiday Help 

With finals and the winter holidays rapidly approaching stress can snowball and cause negative effects on physical and mental health. Below are some techniques and tips to help you get through this potentially challenging time.

Finals Help:

Relaxation Techniques:

Regular practice of relaxation techniques can help bring down stress levels. It’s recommended you try to practice one of these techniques at least once per day. Set aside 10-20 minutes, free of distractions to dedicate to some relaxation time.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation pairs the tension and release of muscles with regulated breathing to help cultivate a sense of calm throughout your entire body.

Mindfulness Exercises 

Mindfulness exercises have been scientifically proven to help with stress, anxiety, and a multitude of other mental and physical health problems. Some of our favorite free or low-cost apps to help you get started with a mindfulness practice are below. You should find plenty of guided mindfulness exercises tailored to your unique needs.  

Coloring or Journaling 

Coloring is a great mental break and can help with focus, managing stress and anxiety. Grab a set of colored penciles, markers, or crayons and check out this free coloring page

Journaling helps you get out of your mind and put your thoughts on paper. Try taking a few moments to check-in and journal about how you are feeling and what is going on. For more information about journaling and stress management check out this page from Verywell Mind.  Also, the video below includes tips on the different types of journaling from our very own Counseling Services Staff Therapist, Gricel Serrano. 

Take Care of Yourself:

Basic needs can often be neglected around finals time. Remember that body and mind are interconnected and it’s important to take care of your physical health needs as well. Try to get plenty of rest, make sure you are eating regular meals (nutritious if possible) and get some exercise when you can.


Sleep is so important in keeping the mind and body well. If you find your mind is racing or you can’t wind down, check out these tips for mindfulness and sleep from

If you feel like your sleep patterns need a larger overhaul, this article from the Sleep Foundation provides information on the main elements of good sleep hygeine. 


Believe it or not but good nutrition is another stress management tool. Check out this simple guide from UNC for reminders on how to eat well during stressful times. Try to stock up on healthy snacks to help keep your stomach and brain fueled. 


Did you know that even simple ten minute walk can have a big impact on mood and stress?

Give it a try. Rate your mood and stress levels on a scale of 1-10 (10 = feeling the best and 1 = the worst), take a brisk 10-15 minute walk and then rate your mood and stress level again. Chances are you will see even a small change for the better in that rating aferward.

Say it's snowing, give a YouTube workout a try or drop into a virtual class through Kinema Fitness, the gym at the Student Center. 

Take Breaks:

Schedule in study breaks – make sure you are doing activities you enjoy during these times! Grab a study buddy, take a walk with a roommate, make plans to FaceTime or talk with a friend or relative over the phone - whatever it may be, it's important you take some time to socialize with others, even when you are stressed. Need some ideas? This article lays out some healthy study tips and what to avoid. 

Holiday Help:

For many the holiday season can be a stressful and triggering time. Here are some general tips for managing the added stress and strain the holidays can bring (adapted from NAMI California's Maintaining Mental Health during the Holiday Season

Additional Resources:

For more holiday self-care tips check out this Harvard Health article.

If you would like to gain a better understanding of how depression and anxiety can worsen during the holidays, this post from Healthline provides more information.

Need someone to chat with to help you through challenging holiday times? 7 Cups of Tea offers free 24/7 mental health chat options.