Finals week pressure, coupled with the anxiety of the holiday season, can become overwhelming. To find coping methods for the stress, Pipe Dream asked Binghamton University faculty, staff and alumni for their best advice.
Jennifer Wegmann, a lecturer of health and wellness studies at BU, said she teaches stress management — as a class and practice — in an atypical way.
“Don’t look at [stress] as a negative, but instead as a positive,” she said. “So appreciate it, and your body’s response is giving you the energy to plow through everything that has to be done, such as studying late at night and pushing forward with your academics.”
However, Wegmann also emphasized that stress is supposed to be temporary.
“Don’t create more stress in your life, but understand that you will be stressed, so utilize these stress responses to your advantage by changing your mindset and the way you think about stress in your life,” she said. “In spite of the stress, you can’t lose sight of the importance of yourself and self-care.”
One way to promote self-care is through meditation, according to Rachael Leonard, ’05, a mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher. She also explained that “sleep, exercise, smiling, and laughing” can help reduce stress.
“A daily practice of just 10 minutes, in time, literally changes the brain in ways that support and enhance your well-being,” she wrote in an email.
To keep your brain working at maximum efficiency, Julie Lee, one of the two registered dietitians for BU Dining Services, recommended balancing meals with small snacks throughout the day.
“Try to actually take a break to eat, rather than idly snacking while studying or writing a paper,” she wrote in an email. “It’s especially important to fuel with complex carbohydrates [such as whole grains] which slowly breakdown to glucose — the brain’s primary fuel.”
Lee said that when looking for a snack, try pairing protein with carbs. So, for example, instead of just having an apple, pair that fruit with string cheese.
Alexa Schmidt, Dining Services’ second registered dietitian, also warned of being mindful of caffeine intake.
“Keep it to 2-3 cups (16-24oz) coffee or less each day,” Schmidt wrote in an email. “Looking for a pick me up? Try a quick walk and an ice cold glass of water.”
Once finals are over, the last thing you want is to let holiday stress take over at home. Emily Panigrosso, assistant director of the University Counseling Center (UCC), wrote to Pipe Dream that this kind of stress can be quite common.
“Many students look forward to going home for the holidays only to find it to be a challenging time,” she wrote in an email. “One reason for this is family stress, including the adjustment to returning to home.”
To remedy this stress, Panigrosso suggested scheduling time away from home, working a part-time job, seeking support from friends or doing something fun, like taking a road trip.
She also noted that the holidays are especially challenging because they overlap with the time when many people may find themselves dealing with seasonal depression, or the “winter blues.” To cope, she suggested being in as much sunlight as possible, and exercising each day.
If you’re experiencing severe mental distress, call any of the following resources: The UCC is available at 607-777-2772 during normal business hours; Binghamton’s New York State University Police at 607-777-2393 at any time; or the 24-hour Crisis Center at United Health Services Binghamton General Hospital at 607-762-2302.