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UCI Students Share Ways of Coping with Stress During Finals Season

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With the end of the quarter and final exams approaching, many UCI students end up struggling with increased levels of stress and anxiety. As assignments start to pile up, it can be difficult to keep up with a growing workload and still maintain healthy self-care and studying habits.

Students of various majors and backgrounds across campus talked with The New University, sharing their different ways of handling stress, and how to find time to practice self-care during this busy season. 

Second-year English student Christine Chuang found organization and scheduling to be crucial in avoiding stress. To stay on top of assignments, Chuang writes multiple to-do lists and references them later on.

“Honestly, I think making to-do lists really helps. I usually make like 10 different to-do lists. It’s usually like the same to-do list over and over again. I just like writing it down,” Chuang said. 

Another way some students have been coping with stress this finals season is by getting out in nature and trying to exercise regularly. Khang Nguyen, a third-year music student, described his favorite spots on campus to walk around and get fresh air.  

“I cope with stress by going outside in nature. At UCI, there are lots of ways to interact with nature; there is nature everywhere. There are beautiful trees. There’s Aldrich Park. You can take a walk on Ring Road and just explore the park and sit on the grass,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen further emphasized how beneficial exercise can be for him as well, even if it just involves doing something as simple as going for a walk on campus.

“Working out is also self-care because you’re taking care of your health. I work out at the ARC or just outside. Walking is a great form of exercise too. I know a lot of students are so busy with everything that they don’t take the time to walk, but it really helps. A lot of students are just so focused on assignments and everything that they neglect just spending time going outside,” Nguyen said.

Aside from academic stress, students also struggle with other types of stress that stem from personal issues in their life. To cope with emotional stress, fourth-year psychology student Alyssa Campbell resorts to a tactic she calls “brain dumping” where she sets a timer and writes everything that is on her mind.

“With more of my emotional stress, I typically do brain dumps where I take a five-minute timer and I just write, and I can’t stop writing for five minutes. If I’m feeling especially stressed, I’ll move it up to 10 minutes. It just gets all of my thoughts on paper, so they’re not in my mind while I’m also struggling with deadlines and stuff,” Campbell said.

Additionally, support systems, whether they be peer mentors, organizations or campus resources, are valuable tools students can utilize. If she were to give her freshman self advice, Campbell said  she would have tried to get more involved in some of the easily-accessible resources on campus.

“Try to get involved as soon as possible, whether that be through your classes [or] getting involved in campus organizations that nourish the kind of environment [that] helps self-care. [Use] your resources early. I wasn’t aware of them. So, seek out resources and environments that really nourish that kind of accepting self-care/ mindfulness kind of environment,” Campbell said. 

She also encouraged other students to be more forgiving of themselves. 

“Give yourself grace. No matter when you start college, no matter what you’re going through, it is a major change and you gotta give yourself some grace during that time,” Campbell said.

Fourth-year psychology student Tina Duong highlighted how for her, practicing mindfulness is a beneficial way to cope with practically any form of stress.

“The first thing that comes to mind is ‘be gentle with yourself.’ Be gentle with yourself when it comes to taking on specific tasks and work. Taking a moment for yourself to just pause and take a breather, drink water, will help with reducing burnout. Be gentle with yourself [and] divvy up pieces of work into smaller amounts, so you have something that’s attainable, and then treat yourself throughout the work,” Duong said.  

As a fourth-year student, Duong reflected on her time at UCI and also highlighted the importance of taking advantage of the resources offered on campus, including the Student Outreach and Retention Center (SOAR).

“I think freshman year, I was really overwhelmed with what I was going to do. [Reach] out to centers that are available nearby like SOAR … They’re great and they’re amazing. Use the resources you have. It’s really important that you do,” Duong said. 

Students interested in learning more about these campus resources, may visit the websites for the UCI Counseling Center and SOAR.

Sabrina Henderson is a Campus News Intern for the winter 2023 quarter. She can be reached at