There comes a time in every college student’s life—a very special time— where everything starts to come together (and by “come together,” I mean everything feels overwhelming and as if you’re constantly on the verge of disaster). Yes indeed, folks, finals season is upon us! Never fret, I’ve compiled a list of Syracuse University’s best stress-busting activities and resources to help you through the last 50 meters of the semester sprint.

Pet a Pet Therapy Dog (cute)!

You’ve just returned to school from Thanksgiving break—you’re stressed about your impending finals, and you’re missing your pets at home. Address both of these concerns by attending a Pet Therapy session at the Barnes Center at The Arch. Beyond the obvious cuteness factor, the Mayo Clinic has found that “animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems.”

The Deborah A. Barnes Pet Therapy program will operate through the end of finals week, with its last session on Friday, Dec. 17, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. No sign-up is necessary. Find all remaining Pet Therapy sessions on the Syracuse University Community Calendar.

Bust A Move (and break a sweat)!

You may say “no way am I putting on workout clothes and walking 10 minutes in the snow just to get all hot and sweaty with a mask on in a room full of strangers,” to which I would say fair point. BUT, I have science on my side.

As cited on the Harvard Health website, studies have found that exercise “reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol” while stimulating “the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.” Additionally, a study by the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that working out in a group, be they friends or strangers, lowers stress levels 26% more than those who exercised alone.

I won’t force your hand, but that’s a pretty convincing argument in favor of signing up for one of the Barnes Center at The Arch’s group fitness classes if I do say so myself. Find the full group fitness class schedule on the Barnes Center at the Arch website.

Take a Break (mindfully)!

I think this suggestion is a bit obvious but reduce your stress with mindfulness practices. Syracuse University offers no shortage of mindfulness resources; heck, the Barnes Center at The Arch has a whole section on its website dedicated to being mindful! Personally, I recommend signing up for one of the Barnes Center’s meditation classes, a 30-minute session at the Crowley Family MindSpa or for a 15-minute massage chair massage, also located at the Crowley Family MindSpa.

Sign-ups for meditation classes and the Crowley Family MindSpa are available on the Wellness Portal.

Pour Some Sugar On Cake (free pancakes)!

When all else fails and nobody else got me, I know sugar got me. Or rather, comfort food has got me, and pancakes are quintessential comfort food. For me, they conjure up memories of Saturday morning breakfasts in the fall before my rec league soccer games. Honestly, nothing sounds more appealing or relaxing than a short stack of warm, fluffy pancakes drenched in REAL maple syrup. If this sounds good to you too, I have just the event for you to attend this finals week.

Orange After Dark is pulling through for all us pancake lovers with their OAD Pancake Stress Buster event Sunday, Dec. 12, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13. Breakfast for dinner? More like breakfast for a midnight snack. I hope to see you all there, as I will definitely be attending.

So, there you have it—a shortlist of things you can do on campus to make this finals season more tolerable. You’re almost there, everybody, hang tight!

Written by Cecelia Kersten ’23, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications