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Student Counseling has tips for stressful week of finals

2020-11-16-Stress Relief-part3
Dr. Kel Lee Cutrell, associate director of Student Counseling services at UNG, offers students tips to relieve feelings of being overwhelmed by exams. They include relying on a trusted friend or family member for support, talking to your professors, exercising to relieve tension in your body, deep breathing, and getting seven to eight hours of sleep.

Being a college student can be filled with stressful experiences such as maintaining good grades or working to fund one's education. This year, students at the University of North Georgia (UNG) and across the nation have dealt with another difficult issue.

"The obvious stressor is the COVID-19 pandemic and what it has done to the academic world as well as the personal world," said Dr. Kel Lee Cutrell, associate director of Student Counseling services at UNG. "It is also the lack of connecting with others that is creating so much stress for students."

In two weeks, UNG students will face another stress-laden situation. They will take their final exams online from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

Cutrell said many students may feel overwhelmed by finals or other situations in their lives. She advises students to follow these tips:

  • Rely on a trusted friend or family member for support.
  • Talk to your professors.
  • Exercise to relieve tension in your body.
  • Try deep breathing.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep.

"Our bodies have endorphins and adrenaline, and exercise lets out that energy," Cutrell said. "It clears our minds."

She also encourages a combination of these tips instead of only one. If these steps do not relieve a student's stress, other resources are available, Cutrell said.

Student Counseling is free, confidential and available to all students through online video sessions. Students may call counseling services on their campus to make an appointment. Students on UNG's Blue Ridge Campus may contact the Dahlonega office for assistance.

  • Cumming Campus: 470-239-3134
  • Dahlonega Campus 706-864-1819
  • Gainesville Campus: 678-717-3660
  • Oconee Campus: 706-310-6205

For a video appointment, students must have a webcam and strong Wi-Fi connection and be located in Georgia. They also must provide the clinician with their identification, address and emergency service numbers in their locale. Students will also verbally guarantee their session is not being recorded and no one else is listening.

"Students are stressed for a reason," Cutrell said. "We don't try to alleviate it. We try to make it manageable and not debilitating. You can have anxiety and still accomplish your tasks."

Cutrell explained she helps students identify coping skills that work for them. Some examples are imagery, musical relaxation, challenging negative thoughts, journaling, and the arts.

"Whether it is painting, drawing, or sculpting, creative outlets can really help," Cutrell said. "Most of all, I want students to remember that they are not in this alone. There are people who want to help them."

Students struggling with thoughts of suicide, self-injury, harming others, or substance abuse, can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 or 911. If you are concerned for another person's physical, emotional, or mental well-being at UNG or believe the person, please fill out the See Something Say Something form.

The University System of Georgia (USG) also launched a comprehensive plan to significantly expand student mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia allocated $11.5 million of Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding, set aside by the federal CARES Act, to support mental health and student support services. About $8 million will expand USG clinical resources to ensure access to telephonic psychiatric care and clinical counseling, in-person counseling options, a 24/7 hotline, and well-being support programs.

Mini-grants totaling $1.725 million will be made available to USG campuses for mental health and wellness. Funds can be used to establish new technology resources, increase campus programming or enhance communications.

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