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Take a deep breath

Everyone always talks about stress at the end of the semester with papers, finals, and making plans for the summer. People forget that at the beginning of the semester, students can be worried about a number of things as well.

It can be stressful trying to get back into the swing of things after summer fun. Students can become overwhelmed when faced with assignment-packed syllabi. For first time students, it may be hard to adjust to college life with new roommates, unfamiliar people, and possibly being away from home for the first time.

“Exercise, don’t drink a lot of caffeine, and have friends and family to talk to for support,” said Sandra McDermott, a counselor who specializes in stress reduction at the UIS Counseling Center. “Yoga classes are great for stress.”

Breathing properly can be extremely helpful when dealing with stress, too. Most people breathe using their upper chest. If you can feel your shoulders lifting when you inhale, you are practicing what McDermott called stressful breathing.

“Belly breathing is calming,” McDermott explained. “Some people breathe stressfully and it can actually stress you out even more.”

She uses guided imagery and breathing exercises to help people with stress reduction at the Counseling Center as well as at her private practice.

If you find yourself struggling with your studies, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors.

“Some of our professors are amazingly kind and understanding,” McDermott said.

She also stressed the importance of being familiar with the resources available on campus.

“Use the resources such as the Counseling Center, CTL, and support systems like your RA, roommates, or other people in your classes,” McDermott said.

The Counseling Center is available free of charge for all students who have paid the Health and Counseling Fee. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, there is a counselor available 24 hours a day by calling the office at (217) 206-7122. Counselors also have the ability to refer students to health services if medication is needed.

“We can help with stress, time management, depression and loneliness. We’re here so (students) have a place to go to talk so they don’t have to feel like they’re burdening their friends and family. Everything is completely confidential,” McDermott said.

I know that it can be difficult to ask for help, especially emotional help. I’ve been there. I am there. I know that everyone deals with stress in different ways and sometimes it can become overwhelming.

I also know there is not shame in asking for help. UIS has some wonderful resources to help students, pardon the cliché, be the best that they can be. That means academically and emotionally.

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