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Counseling, fun events can help students deal with stress

Finals week begins Dec. 9 at the University of North Georgia, a time when students typically spend more time studying and more time stressed about academics and other issues.

As the end of the semester approaches, many students at the University of North Georgia are feeling the pressure mount. Projects and papers are due. Final exams are next week and graduation is in two weeks. Going home for the holidays even causes stress for some students.

In a survey of more than 120,000 college students by the American College Health Association, 45 percent reported that academics were "traumatic or difficult to handle." Additionally, nearly a third of college students surveyed reported family problems also were traumatic or difficult to handle. Simon Cordery, director of Student Counseling on the Dahlonega Campus, advises students to prioritize – and seek help if they need it.

"My best advice to students feeling stressed out over finals is to compartmentalize each test and prioritize them; focusing on the big picture can be too overwhelming," he said. "Also, don’t distort the meaning of the test. It is an assessment of your knowledge in one area, not a measurement of your worth as a person."

What about the day of the test? How can students calm those pre-test butterflies?

"Take a few deep, slow breaths and relax," Cordery said. "This action helps clear your mind and helps you recover information that can be clouded by stress."

Student Counseling offices on UNG's Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses will be open during normal university business hours during finals week and also offer workshops that focus on managing pressures from school and family. Students on the Oconee Campus can make appointments via the online scheduler; students on the Cumming Campus can seek counseling at any of the other three campuses.

In addition to counseling services, groups on all campuses offer a variety of relaxing, educational and unique events to help students succeed and enjoy the last weeks of the semester.

Final Stress Dog
Students pet a dog during an event aimed at helping
students find relief from the stress of finals week.

CAREing Paws will bring cuddly canines and fuzzy felines to the John Harrison Hosch Library on UNG's Gainesville Campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 9. The group, which visited the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses last spring, has more than 25 therapy dogs and cats that travel to schools, hospitals and individuals. The group will be visiting the Dahlonega Campus at the end of spring semester.

"Pet therapy has well-documented therapeutic benefits, and those of us who have pets know they make our lives better," said Amanda Nash, head librarian and assistant professor who has been coordinating the event. "The first day of finals is the perfect time for the event, as the end of the semester and beginning of exams is a stressful time for everyone. We hope having the dogs in the library will give folks a chance to relax and bring some smiles to stressed-out faces.”

Also on Dec. 9, the Student Government Association (SGA) will serve breakfast for dinner from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Student Center on the Gainesville Campus. On Dec. 10, students on the Gainesville Campus can take advantage of several freebies: Massages from noon-1 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. at the Student Center; energy drinks, Scantron forms and pencils from noon-1 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the Student Center and the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building; and hot chocolate at the Student Center at 5 p.m.

On the Dahlonega Campus, students can relax at the aqua massage station or the oxygen bar that will be set up Dec. 9 in front of Hoag Student Center. Grab and go breakfast will be available on Dec. 9 in Dunlap Hall. Earlier this week, Dahlonega Campus's SGA continued the tradition of the annual Stress Relief Comedy Show and the annual Midnight Breakfast.

The Oconee Campus held several stress-relief events for students this week, including "Pawsitive" Interaction workshop sponsored by UNG Disability Services, UNG Student Counseling and Happy Tails, a pet therapy group that uses rabbits. In an annual tradition, Oconee also welcomed Campus Spa to campus to treat students to massages.

The last day of classes for all UNG campuses is Dec. 6; finals are set for Dec. 9-13. Commencement ceremonies will be held Dec. 14 on the Gainesville Campus and Dec. 15 on the Dahlonega Campus and the university will close for winter break on Dec. 20.

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