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Escaping end-of-the-semester stress

Students relieve finals week anxiety through CMU Libraries’ De-Stress Week events

Contact: Heather Smith

Buried deep within the Park Library second-floor bookshelves, freshman Kellie Hoeing hovers over her biology textbook. With three finals, four biology lab reports and two essays all due before the end of the semester, she feels the pressure so many other students also are feeling.

Finals week is here.

Hoeing needs a break before tackling the next item on her never-ending to-do list, so she gets up to take a quick walk around the library. As the Macomb freshman rounds the corner, she spots three dogs lying by the staircase just waiting to interact with CMU students.

They are the therapy dogs that University Libraries brought in as part of its biannual De-Stress Week.

University Libraries launched this event in December 2014 by placing coloring books, puzzles and games on tables throughout Park Library to give students a mental escape while studying for finals. It quickly expanded into holding yoga classes, guided meditation, and now, bringing in therapy dogs.

“When we walk around the library at this time of the year, everyone is so focused and tense,” said Kathy Irwin, associate dean of libraries. “We wanted to give students a break.”

It was the break that Hoeing desperately needed, as she spent the next hour sitting on the Park Library floor with the dogs. Her mind eased from the worries of her studies and focused on the dogs instead.

“I was having a really rough day,” the exercise science and kinesiology major said. “Seeing the dogs instantly made me smile and reminded me that in a week I’ll be able to go home and see my own dogs. It’s a feeling of comfort.”

Each semester, the library staff members have seen De-Stress Week grow in popularity, allowing for the expansion of activities offered.

“I’ve never seen so many happy college students before in my life,” said Eric Bellmore, manager of library web services. “The word spread so quickly through Snapchat and Twitter that before we knew it, students not even studying at the library were coming in just to see the dogs.”

To learn more about De-Stress Week visit

Tips to overcoming end-of-the-year stress

Ross Rapaport, director of the counseling center, shares these tips on how students can manage finals week stress. People also can easily apply some of these ideas to managing holiday season anxiety.

• Start preparing now. It is better to over prepare than underprepare.

• Study to understand and learn course content rather than trying to memorize content without understanding.

• Get adequate rest. Eat well. Take good care of yourself.

• Break a lot of work into smaller parts and work systematically on what needs to be done.

• Ask for help if you need it. It may not be too late.

• Breathe. Find a quiet place you can retreat to so you can relax.

• Have realistic expectations for the rest of the semester and the holidays.

• Get a good night’s rest before each exam.

• Anticipate and plan for how you will deal with predictable holiday stressors.

• Keep things in perspective.

• Simply do your best.

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