Free Ways to Practice Self-Care During Finals


by Darby Hoffman, Lifestyle Editorial Assistant

For college students, stress during finals (or any time during the academic year) is a given. Really, what would exams be without excessive levels of anxiety and the occasional mental breakdown?

As unfortunate as this truth may be, acknowledging the magnitude of collegiate stress is necessary to direct students to self-care resources. Whether you have a full week finals ahead or are already packing to go home, take advantage of the many free services offered by University Health Services (UHS) to de-stress and decompress.

Many UHS services are available for free for any University of Wisconsin-Madison student enrolled for credit at the university who is paying segregated fees. This includes full-time and part time undergraduate, graduate and professional students.


  1. Individual Counseling: Individual counseling sessions consist of a 50-minute appointment with a UHS health care provider. Issues to be discussed in these sessions can range from emotional, psychological, physical, academic, or spiritual concerns. Each session will cater to the student’s specific experiences and be unique to each visit. With brief, solution focused methods, students can expect to be directed to tools and resources to resolve their stressors quickly. If student’s do need more attention, however, UHS may provide a community resource referral or redirect the student to a counseling group.


  1. Stress Management Services: Stress management services are offered both in person and online! Students can be referred for a stress management session by a UHS health care provider, or schedule an access consultation with the UHS counseling service reception desk (333 East Campus Mall, 7th floor) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. These 45 to 50 minute sessions may include a variety of activities, including a mind- body relaxation technique, receiving print and electronic resources and designing a plan on which to act upon other activities. If you aren’t able to visit a UHS facility, head to their website to find guided audio relaxation exercises to calm you from home.


  1. Meditation Classes: Improve your concentration, mood, stress and mental clarity by utilizing one of UHS’ many meditation resources. Learn the basics of meditation by attending a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday class around campus, or check out one of the various guided-meditations provided online. Practicing any of the various types of meditation can reduce the anxiety, depression and irritability that often accompanies finals.


  1. 24-Hour Crisis Service: Although we would like to think that the stress of finals is totally manageable, things can get out of hand. For help with an urgent mental health crisis, contact UHS’ 24-hour crisis intervention service at (608)265-5600 (option 9). Whether you’re feeling desperate, having suicidal thoughts, or are worried for someone you know, this hotline is a resource that is always available for students. However, in an emergency, remember to immediately contact 911 or get to the nearest hospital emergency room. Also, consider visiting UHS’ list of self-help resources for more helpful information.


Group counseling, couple/ partner counseling, 24-hour-crisis services, alcohol & drug assessment, psychiatric services and disordered eating assessment/ treatment are some of the additional services offered free to students.

Take an hour out of your all-day study session to visit UHS and give your mental well-being the love and attention it deserves. This ultimate study break will make the days of exams more bearable and maybe even help you focus and perform better throughout the week. Stay healthy and happy Badgers.


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