Does the approaching end of the semester have you feeling frazzled? If so, take a break with certified therapy dogs, free chair massages, and other stress-relieving activities on Monday, May 4, and Tuesday, May 5, from 2–6 p.m. in Milner Library.

PAWSitively Stress Free is a free event co-sponsored by Health Promotion and Wellness and Milner Library that brings therapy dogs to campus. The dogs are certified through Therapy Dogs International and are provided by the Town and Country Kennel Club in Bloomington.

Illinois State University students report stress as one of their top barriers to academic success. While stress is a normal and necessary part of life, too much stress or feeling overwhelmed for long periods of time can be harmful. Research shows that for some, just a few minutes of petting a dog can lower the body’s level of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Reducing cortisol levels lowers your blood pressure and helps you feel relaxed.

Recently, therapy dogs have also been shown to lower anxiety levels and reduce feelings of loneliness for college students. Lessening stress allows you to focus better on studying and project work as well as aids in information retention.

What: PAWSitively Stress Free. Certified therapy dogs, free chair massages, coloring, and other stress-relieving activities and resources.
When: 2–6 p.m. Monday, May 4, and Tuesday, May 5
Where: Milner Library, third floor
Cost: Free
Registration: Not needed

Additional stress management resources are available through Health Promotion and Wellness, such as a mindfulness class, a free downloadable guided meditation, weekly massage offered on campus, and interactive workshops.

Here are some additional stress management tips to get you through the final busy weeks of the semester:

  • Make a list and check it twice. Time management is a vital component of stress management. Schedule your studying and project work to make sure that you spend adequate time on each, and don’t get bogged down in one area.
  • Take breaks. Your brain cannot be on 100 percent of the time. Quick 15-minute walking or stretching breaks will help reset your brain so that you can focus better on tasks.
  • … But don’t waste your time. The Internet and social media can be a huge time suck. Set time limits for how much you’ll spend online a day, and if needed, take an internet break until finals are over.
  • Sleep! It might seem like a good idea to work longer and sleep less, but your body and brain need a certain amount of sleep in order to function, let alone function well. Still aim for at least six hours of sleep. Additional sleep tips are available on the Health Promotion and Wellness website.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. Nutrition becomes even more important when you are asking more of your brain and body. Eating well will also strengthen your immune system, because the last thing you need right now is a cold or the flu. Check out this article on 10 foods to boost your brain power.
  • Exercise. It is a great way to combat stress. Schedule in physical activity into your study schedule and make time to move.
  • Just say no. Prioritize things you have to get done and your own well-being over all other demands on your time. It’s OK to say no!
  • Utilize campus resources that can help set you up for success such as the Career Center, Dean of Students Office, Student Fitness Center, Health Promotion and Wellness, the Visor Academic Center, and tutoring, study groups, and support programs via University College.