Anxiety, Overwhelm, Burnout – oh my!

Feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or burnt out at this time of the semester is a common experience, and it can lead people to disengage from the things that matter most to them. When we feel overwhelmed, disengaging can be a way to avoid feeling like a failure (“I didn’t actually care”) or to feel like we have some control over the situation (“I’m opting out”).

Disengaging can seem like a solution in the moment, but it can have negative consequences in the long run. Instead of disengaging, it’s important to find strategies that can help us manage our overwhelm and stay engaged:

  • Make a to-do list and prioritize tasks. Break larger projects into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Take breaks and practice self-care activities such as movement, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself and avoid comparing your progress to others.
  • Use time-management techniques such as the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set amount of time followed by a short break.
  • Get enough sleep and eat an array of yummy foods.
  • Reach out to professors, advisors, or other supportive services if needed.
  • Stay organized and use tools such as calendars and reminders to help manage deadlines.
  • Remember to celebrate accomplishments, even small ones, and give yourself credit for what you’ve achieved.

While the end of a college semester can be a challenging time, it is possible to overcome the anxiety, burnout, and overwhelm that often come with it. By employing these strategies, seeking support from those around you, staying engaged and focusing on what you can control, you can successfully navigate the end of the semester and emerge ready for whatever challenges lie ahead. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as academic success, and finding a balance between the two is the best strategy for long-term success.

Resilience is How You Recharge: Spring Break Edition

Resilience is often misunderstood. A lot of people think of football players when they think of resilience – able to take a hit, pick themselves up off the turf, and go for another play. Well-meaning students trying to celebrate resilience might support each other staying up until 3am trying to finish a paper. Overwork and exhaustion are the opposite of resilience. When we go to class or work exhausted, we don’t have the cognitive resources to do well, we have lower self-control, and we are often all up in our feels. 

A resilient person is a well-rested one. Resilience is adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stress. It means rebounding from difficult experiences.

A resilient person tries really hard, then stops to rest, then tries again.

The more time a person spends in their performance zone, they more time they need in the recovery zone. So the more imbalanced we become due to overworking, the more benefit we get from activities that allow us to return to a state of balance. In other words, the value of a recovery period rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us. 

Most people assume that if you stop doing a task, say you put down your Bio Chem homework, your brain will naturally recover. When you start again the next morning, you’ll have your energy back. But have you ever spent time in bed unable to fall asleep because your brain is thinking about all the things you need to do? That’s one example of resting but in a way that can still leave you feeling exhausted. Rest and recovery are not the same thing. Stopping does not equal recovering.

Recover a bit this week 

Internal recovery is the short periods of relaxation that take place throughout our day through short scheduled or unscheduled breaks, shifting our attention, or changing to other tasks when the mental or physical resources required for task completion are depleted.

External recovery refers to actions that take place outside of scheduled work – so evenings, weekends, holidays, vacations. If after your day you lie around and get riled up by news you read on your phone or stress about the paper you have due on Monday, your brain hasn’t received a break from high mental arousal. Our brains need rest as much as our bodies.

External recovery means taking time to do things that are fun, enjoyable, and help you feel good. 

  • Explore new places
  • Go outside
  • Move your body
  • Remember the things you loved when you had more time to play; do more of them
  • Unplug
  • Get good sleep 
  • Eat yummy, nourishing food
  • Spend time with people who support and love you
  • Experience awe

The best person to know how you best recharge is YOU. Take time to recharge effectively and you’ll be better equipped to face whatever challenges come your way. 

Navigating conflict

It’s bound to happen while you’re in college. Some reminders for when you’re in conflict with someone:

  • Communicate respectfully: When conflicts arise, communicate respectfully and listen actively to the other person’s perspective. Avoid using accusatory language and try to approach the situation with an open mind.
  • Seek common ground: Look for areas of agreement or compromise that can help resolve the conflict. Even if you don’t agree on everything, finding common ground can help you move forward in a positive direction.
  • Take responsibility: If you’ve played a role in the conflict, it’s important to take responsibility for your actions and apologize if necessary. Acknowledging your mistakes can help de-escalate the situation and build trust with the other person.
  • Consider mediation: If the conflict is particularly complex or difficult to resolve, consider seeking the help of a neutral third party, such as a counselor or mediator. They can help facilitate a constructive conversation and find solutions that work for everyone involved.
  • Take care of yourself: Conflict can be stressful and emotionally draining. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time by practicing self-care activities, such as exercising, meditating, or talking with a trusted friend. Remember, you’re not alone and there are resources available to help you through difficult situations.

Failing Forward

All of us receive feedback at some point in our academic lives that make us feel like a failure. Whether that’s an actual failing grade, a lower grade than we desired, mean-spirited academic feedback, or something else – these types of critiques can be tough to handle.

If we can reframe failure, it can serve as an opportunity to learn and inform future actions and decisions. Consider these ideas before generalizing that negative academic feedback into a feeling about yourself:

  • Grades are an instrument of an educational system that quantifies learning using a “standard” measurement for a widely diverse population of students, and grades require that learning happens in a certain amount of time. These are not essential values for educating nor learning.
  • Receiving a low grade or negative feedback happens at one moment in time. It does not change the past, nor predict the future.
  • “Failure” is not indicative of intelligence, know-how, or worth. In fact, all grades are only useful for characterizing your work on a single assignment or exam in a brief moment of your life.
  • A low grade doesn’t necessarily equate to the effort you put into an assignment, project or test…but it might (if this rubs you the wrong way, please be sure to read the next bullet point).
  • College courses are designed to take up a lot of time. If you’re stretched by life’s circumstances and challenges, a low grade is likely a sign that you’re investing time into something more important instead.
  • Receiving a low grade can feel like we’ve “wasted” our time and effort. Another choice is to explore what happened and to decide if making some changes are worth it.
  • Receiving a low grade can feel terrible. Feeling terrible does not mean that you are terrible.
  • Most people who receive a low grade also graduate.

Once you’ve reframed the situation, think about what happened. Look at the situation objectively and consider what you could have done differently. How can you improve moving forward? Who can you reach out to for help? This could include seeking out resources like those at the Learning Center, using TA or Professor office hours, or working with a study group.

Be kind to yourself. Feeling like a failure hurts, but remember that everyone fails at some point. Treat yourself with compassion and use this as a stepping stone to greater success.

How to Have Great Sex…ual Health

Healthy sexual relationships can positively impact our well-being. Use these strategies to help keep everyone safe and healthy. 


Only you know when you’re ready for sex. Listen to yourself and consider your motivations, feelings, and boundaries. Sex comes with inherent risks – are you comfortable with the potential consequences? Are you clear about what you hope to gain? Remember that learning about intimacy and your own sexuality is a lifelong process.


What is sexy to one person might not be sexy to another. The best way to find out what a partner enjoys is to ask. It can feel difficult to talk about sex, but communication is critical and can also be hot. Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues from your partner. Tell your partner what makes you feel good and also what doesn’t. Ask and listen for the same insight from them. 

Get Consent

It’s critical to establish clear and enthusiastic consent from all parties involved and to communicate about boundaries, preferences, and desires. It’s best to talk about consent when clothes are on and emotions are chill. That way, no one feels rushed and everyone can voice excitement or concerns that they might have. Everyone deserves to know what they are consenting to, so reflect on what your partner may need to know before sex, like your STI status, how you protect yourself from STIs, and which contraceptives you use. 

Reduce Your Risks

You can use a latex or polyurethane barrier to help prevent sexually transmitted infections. You can get free latex or polyurethane barriers at Campus Heath, Student Stores Pharmacy, Student Wellness or in the Carolina Union. If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, use a form of birth control. At Campus Health, contraception can be prescribed by a gynecology provider, primary care provider, or a pharmacist.  

By prioritizing sexual health, people can enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of intimate relationships while reducing the risk of potential health issues. Check out S.H.A.R.E. for additional sexual health education and resources.

Spread the Love

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate love in a diversity of ways! Some ideas:

Show the Community Love


Give your time and energy to make your community stronger.

Show Yourself Love

Have Some “Me” time

It’s easy to prioritize everything else – coursework, extracurriculars, jobs, relationships. Find a balance by loving yourself this Valentine’s Day too. 

Show Your Circle Love

Hang out

Spend time with those nearest and dearest to you – your “inner circle.” These are your besties, your ride-or-dies, your significant other, your roommates. Here are some fun ideas to spend time together regardless of your relationship status:

  • Watch a good movie
  • Eat or make yummy food together
  • Video chat with people you adore who are far away
  • Play some games

Four Emotions Of Winter Break

You have arrived home, with friends, or wherever you are spending Winter Break. The post-exam slump is over. You are in the groove of spending time with loved ones, relaxing, and trying to work on whatever it is you plan to fit into the holidays.  

The truth is, this time can be special, but it can also be extremely hard. You will face many emotions in the next few weeks. This may be frustrating when all you want to do is take a break.  

It is important to process these emotions so you can experience the break in a healthy way. Here are our thoughts on how to deal with four emotions you may encounter this Winter Break:  

  1. Excitement 

You have not spent time with your loved ones for a while – enjoy it! Perhaps you have plans you are looking forward to – live in the moment. Treasure the joy of the memories you are making. Stay present. As the excitement may taper off, it will be easy to seclude yourself to whatever makes you most comfortable. It is important to spend time in safe spaces but remember that healthy in-person connection is vital to your well-being.  

  1. Exhaustion 

You have worked hard! Rest – you deserve it. Take time to breathe and remember that seclusion and virtual isolation is not the best form of relaxation. Consider taking a hiatus from the digital world, for whatever length of time seems best to you. Spend time in places, doing activities, with people that make you feel whole.  

  1. Hesitation 

One of the worst feelings moving into winter break is the hesitation that stems from change. You have been away for months, and change is inevitable. This change – whether in places, or people, can bring up confusing emotions: sadness, grief, anger, hurt. Face the raw emotions. Then, approach each moment with gratitude. Gratitude has been found both experientially and scientifically to be a powerful tool. Focus on the wonderful moments you can have, even if it is not the way it was.  

  1. Grief 

Similarly, returning home or to loved ones can cause grief. Loved ones may be gone, or people may have moved away. You may miss being with your people on campus. Loss is excruciating, whether it involves death or not. Be kind to yourself. Take time to grieve. Be patient, and do not expect your emotions to be linear. Spend time with loved ones – soak up the love around you. 

Permission to Love Yourself

Permission slip: We grant you permission to love yourself just as you are. no waiting periods. no exceptions.

You’re allowed to love yourself exactly as you are – right now. 

You have permission to love yourself without exception. You didn’t need it from us, but we’re giving it to you anyway. 

You’re brilliant and uniquely you. You’re not a project that needs to be fixed. 

During this time of year, you might hear resolutions from people that want to change everything about themselves and their lives. No one needs to be reinvented to be loved! 

You might have resolutions that you’re planning, and that’s fine (we do have some tips for setting resolutions that stick).

Remember that you will be you every single day until you meet those goals, and then you will still be you once you reach them. You have permission to love yourself right now and during that whole journey. Don’t put it off until you reach a goal.

Friend, you’re worthy of being loved right now. 

Wrapping Up the Semester

It’s (Almost) Time to Take a Break

By the end of this week, many folks on campus will feel lighter with fewer responsibilities. It feels good to wrap up the loose ends of the semester – final projects and exams, saying goodbye to friends, packing up your things, preparing for travel and holidays. 

Even with that lightening of our loads, anytime the rhythm of our day shifts, it can feel difficult. Here are some strategies to help you stay healthy and well as you shift from all-out academic mode to your winter break. 

  • Manage your free time: At the beginning, the extra time can feel like a gift! But the adjustment to free time can be a struggle after a while or, for some, right away.
    • Start by taking time to relax.
    • Consider making a plan or list of things you would like to do over break.
    • Schedule some of your time with things that make you feel good!
  • Prep for family & friends: Plan ahead for family and friend encounters.
    • What questions or conflicts typically arise?
    • How do you want to respond?
    • Make a list of coping skills that work for you.
  • Focus on you: 
    • This break can provide you time to focus on how you’re feeling, what you might need, and how to make a plan moving forward.
    • Support your holiday wellbeing with strategies from Student Wellness.
  • Take care of your mental health: Many people experience a worsening of mental health symptoms around this time of year. If this happens to you, you aren’t alone!

Healthy Haps this Week

Monday 12/5

Tuesday 12/6

Wednesday 12/7

Thursday 12/8

Friday 12/9

Saturday 12/10

Wrapping up the Fall Semester 2022

The student a cappella group, UNC Clef Hangers, perform at The Old Well at dusk on the last day of classes (LODOC) for the fall semester on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, December 1, 2021. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Every semester during the week before finals, UNC-CH collaborates on a wellness initiative to support students. The goal is to raise awareness, provide new information, prompt reflection, and highlight services, resources, and events around campus by focusing on the importance of:

  • Sleep is all about patterns. Can you work to keep healthy sleep patterns consistent during finals? 
  • Nutrition means listening to your body. Eat when you’re hungry; stop when you’re full. You might plan ahead and make some meals and snacks in bulk so you can eat nourishing food without needing a lot of time.
  • Activity – Movement can help you retain material better than if you study while sitting still. So ride a stationary bike while you review your notes. Go for a walk on Battle Park trails to take a movement and nature break.
  • Connecting with people you adore is essential to finals success, improving your executive function, learning, and memory. Support each other during finals! Check in on a genuine level, talk about topics outside of academics, study and take fun breaks together, and avoid stress competition or comparing grades.
  • Knowledge – This time of year is all about gaining and retaining knowledge. How you study can make a difference! Use active study techniques like creating flashcards, using a study group, or scheduling breaks after short bursts of learning.
  • Self-Care means checking in with yourself about what you need and then making that happen when you can. Keep it simple! Pause and unplug from tech for a few minutes. Get outside. Take a few deep breaths. Hydrate. Play a favorite song. Make sure you take some moments just for you during finals.

Supportive Events

This calendar will be updated throughout finals – check back often for more events and email if you have an event to add!

Monday 12/5

Tuesday 12/6

Wednesday 12/7

Friday 12/9

Saturday 12/10

Winter Break Hours for Campus Health, CAPS, and Campus Rec are listed. Rec is open thru Friday at 9 pm and reopens 1/2 from 6 am -12 pm. Campus Health and CAPS are open through 12/23 and reopen 1/3 from 8 am - 5 pm.
The Carolina Union Activities Board holds an event where students and staff can create gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and icing in the Great Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The event is held in conjunction with LDOC (Last Day Of Class) festivities. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)