by Carrie Kline, UAS Counseling Services

We are in the last few weeks of the semester and I have talked with a lot of students who are trying to wrap up the course assignments and prepare for winter break. This can be an extremely stressful time, but there are ways to work with these situations rather than feel like they are working against you. Acute stress, such as taking an exam, writing a paper, or another assignment, can be beneficial as long as the physical experience passes quickly or responds to coping skills. Acute stress can increase your heart rate and breathing due to the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can connect to increased motivation and focus, but can also be very uncomfortable if a person continues to experience them for longer than the exam, paper, or assignment. Finding balance with stress and rest is important to make sure your body isn’t continually stressed. 

If you’re feeling like you’re having a hard time focusing, try to move your body for a short period of time. If you’re writing a paper, read your topic and then go for a short walk, between 10 and 20 minutes. Even if it is just up and down the hall, think about your topic while you are walking. This movement can assist with writer’s block and feeling uncertain about your topic because it increases your heart rate slightly and also shifts the stress response to focus on another problem (i.e., keeping your feet moving). 

One way to care for yourself during this time is meditation. It can be beneficial to use the loving-kindness meditation practice. Some of the benefits of this practice include reduction in self-criticism, increased positive emotions, increased hope, reduction in pain symptoms, increased resiliency, continued beneficial after-effects, and faster recovery (Chowdhury, 2022). Start by setting a timer for 2 minutes. Bring to mind a person who you love and care about and repeat these phrases three times: “May you be well,” “May you be healthy,” “May you be at peace.” Notice how your body feels. Next bring to mind a person you do not know well but wish to share some love and kindness with. When that person comes to mind, repeat these phrases three times: “May you be well,” “May you be healthy,” “May you be at peace.” Notice how your body feels. Finally, focus on yourself and bring to mind the feelings you experienced when showing love and kindness to others. Focus these feelings on yourself and repeat these phrases three times: “May I be well,” “May I be healthy,” “May I be at peace.” If the timer hasn’t not gone off, continue to take slow deep breaths until you have reached the end of your two minutes.

You can also participate in Drop-in Counseling or make a counseling appointment by contacting the Counseling Office at 907-796-6000 or e-mailing uas.info@alaska.edu. Drop-in sessions are also available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays this fall semester.

Take good care,

Carrie Kline

UAS Lead Counselor


References: 

Chowdhury, M. R. (2022, September 12). What is loving-kindness meditation? PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://positivepsychology.com/loving-kindness-meditation/#meditation