Campus News

Managing stress before and during finals

Kirkwood Community College’s counselors Angie Ziesman Weiler and Mary Gesing held a meeting with students several years ago to talk about stress. They discussed the 4Ms; mindfulness, mastery, movement and meaningful connections that are still helpful in 2023. 

Mindfulness is to live in the moment instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future. Think about enjoying a meal and focusing on the mix of flavors instead of mindlessly eating one chip after another. Another good way to practice mindfulness is to take some deep breaths for a minute. If it’s difficult to focus, there are free apps such as Smiling Mind, UCLA Mindful, 10% Happier and Insight Timer. 

Mastery gives a sense of control and accomplishment. It’s to realize the improvement one is making for a skill they’re working on or developing, a new skill such as cooking or playing an instrument. 

It’s also looking back at a difficult part of life. It can be physical such as overcoming a leg injury or emotional such as mental health.  

Movement is to keep moving. With in-person, hybrid and online classes, students are mostly sitting at desks or tables typing, writing or reading for classes, along with sitting through Zoom classes. 

Students don’t need to have a full body workout, but simply keep moving such as cleaning, walking, gardening, making or fixing something or walking up and down the stairs. Dancing and crafting are also good examples to keep one’s body moving. 

Meaningful connection is focused on connections with other humans. While many students have been able to reconnect after the pandemic, some may struggle with reaching out for and keeping connections. 

There are many options such as texting or calling friends and family members, sending flowers to someone, going out to lunch and even talking through Zoom and Discord. 

What is important for meaningful connection is that it’s meaningful and find what works for each person. Students don’t have to talk to a bunch of people in one day or in a group, but what’s important is they give time, and show they’re interested in the interaction. Be present and listen.  

During this time with finals and end of the semester projects, students need a moment to breath and not worry about what the future has in store. There is an upcoming session that focuses on stress at the end of the semester, Managing Test Anxiety, on Tuesday, April 25, at 11:15 a.m. in 3042 Iowa Hall. 

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