The end of a semester can be a stressful time for students. Take a break with certified therapy dogs, free chair massages, coloring, and other stress-relieving activities from 2–4 p.m. Monday, May 7, and Tuesday, May 8, in Milner Library during the special Finals Week PAWSitively Stress Free.

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 Town and Country Kennel Club in Bloomington. PAWSitively Stress Free is a regular event, occurring once a month during the semester and twice during finals week.

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. Research also shows that therapy dogs can be particularly beneficial for college students.

For those who enjoy animals, research has shown that therapy dogs 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.

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.

Need your furry fix now? Check out the PAWSitively Stress Free video and photos on Health Promotion and Wellness’ Facebook page.

Event details

What: PAWSitively Stress Free. Certified therapy dogs, free chair massages, coloring, and other stress-relieving activities and resources.
When: 2–4 p.m. Monday, May 7, and Tuesday, May 8
Where: Milner Library, third floor
Cost: Free
Registration: Not needed


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Additional resources

Here are some 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 suck on your time. 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. Naps can help as well. 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 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 CenterDean of Students OfficeStudent Fitness CenterHealth Promotion and Wellness; the Visor Academic Center; and tutoring, study groups, and support programs via University College.