Stressed-out college kids, take note: finals week may be a gauntlet of exams and papers, but you don’t have to go it alone. Student Health Services (SHS) at Boston University is offering up sage wisdom to keep those frazzled nerves at bay – and it’s more than just hitting the books. According to SHS staff psychologist Cong Zhang, finals season heightens anxiety and depression among students, a phenomenon she's well-acquainted with in her counseling work. But, fear not, there are strategies to tackle the stress head-on.
Zhang has a bevy of tactics up her sleeve, geared toward helping students regulate their emotions and practice mindfulness during this high-stakes time. “A lot of times emotions can get so overwhelming, that we feel like they’re preventing us from doing the thing that we want to do,” Zhang said, in a statement obtained by BU Today. She underscores the importance of recognizing how stress manifests, not just emotionally but physically and cognitively as well.
Zhang recommends starting with a self-check-in, querying your physical health, emotional, and cognitive states, and assessing if stress is altering your behavior. She suggests students engage their senses with pleasurable activities, find calming mantras, and organize tasks and schedules visually to better manage their time. Crucial to overcoming the finals frenzy is ensuring sufficient sleep, breaking big tasks into smaller chunks, and maintaining a semblance of nonattachment to stress.
With a carefree smile and an approach rooted in gentle encouragement, Zhang advises being kind to oneself and practicing self-compassion, especially when inner critics run rampant. "I really enjoy thinking about a 5-year-old or 10-year-old version of myself," Zhang told BU Today. When the going gets tough, don’t be shy to ask for help. SHS is equipped with individual therapists, referral coordinators, and an after-hours hotline to support students round the clock. They also run therapy groups covering managing anxiety, mindfulness meditation, sharpening focus, and more—crucial aids that continue through the final stretch.
Zhang's overriding message is empowerment – she’s in the business of bolstering students to face their academic challenges head-on. She remarks, “We want to be able to empower any student who comes to us to address their needs and meet their goals.” Students can get more information on the counseling services and therapy groups offered through SHS on their website. So buck up, scholars. Finals might be tough, but with the right strategies and support, they don't have to be the end of the world.