Kevin Paredes/Photo Editor De-Stress December is a monthlong initiative in which the University provides events and programs for students to relax and unwind during end-of-semester exams and papers.

As this article goes to press, I have completed 12 De-Stress December events — and I’m more stressed than ever.

It started out as a bet. One of my friends said she didn’t think I could hit 10 events before the end of finals. I quickly hit that number with all of the free food-based events, but it’s been a real challenge to squeeze all of it into my schedule. With the papers and projects I have due this semester, I barely had time to de-stress. Instead, I found myself running from class to an event, eating the junk food they had there and drinking so much caffeine I can’t believe it. Trying to find time to hit up the library, Marketplace and Spine (among other random locations) in order to de-stress has been more challenging than actually sitting down to do my assignments.

I started right on Dec. 1. When I got the email in the morning, I saw “free cookies” and penciled it into my day. Outside of the Fleishman Center, there was a space for making cards for servicemen and women. I quickly — but sincerely — scrawled a Merry Christmas message and made my passage to the hot chocolate. I missed the cookies, and the hot chocolate was way too sweet, but I checked it off of my list.

My next task came on Sunday: score a free coffee from Jazzman’s. I’m counting these free food events in my list, because the University considers them part of the month’s events. However, after this one, I realized that these are destruction in a cup. You’re not supposed to drink caffeine after, like, 2 p.m., but they keep giving us free coffee at dinnertime. I’m not sure what the endgame is, but over this challenge, I predictably kept getting coffee at night and then trying to figure Sodexo out in my caffeine-induced insomnia.

The next night, my friend and I attempted origami at the STEAM Room makerspace in Appalachian Collegiate Center. It was extremely stressful: we had to consult several videos and online step-by-step tutorials before we came even remotely close to making our paper into cranes. I had to go home and do some deep breathing to recover. Then, I stressed about how my deep breathing cut into my sleep time. Which kept me up even later. Then I cried a little bit.

On Tuesday, I checked two events off my list and really overdid it with the hot chocolate. I’m not sure it was super healthy, but I went to pet dogs and eat cookies — at the same time — in Old O’Connor. Later that night, I returned to the STEAM makerspace to “paint ‘n sip” with hot cocoa. Maybe this place has it out for me, but all you need to know is that I put my paintbrush into my cup of cocoa and bailed early.

The next few days were a blur of coffee, coloring and therapy dogs. Even with the amount of events I went to, I felt like I should be doing more, both in terms of studying and in terms of self-care. I spent time “de-stressing,” but I was also trying to get to class, go to my jobs and work on my finals, and the balancing act was too much to handle.

To be completely honest, De-Stress December has been one of the most stressful parts of my semester. I consider myself lucky, though: the cups of free coffee have caught most of the tears and the rest have fallen on the fur of a tiny dog that someone brought to the Union.