Doctor’s orders: Pat more dogs

pat more dogs uml stress relief fair

When I was a sweet, summer child—young and carefree and with zero stress—this is how I’d rank my top-five, favorite holidays:

  1. My birthday
  2. The last day of school
  3. 4th of July
  4. Halloween
  5. Christmas

Now, since stress is a big part of my life and I don’t have the last day of school to look forward to, I just live for these holidays:

  1. 4th of July
  2. Thanksgiving1
  3.  Christmas

1Since it’s socially unacceptable for adults to trick-or-treat unless they have a child or something, Thanksgiving has taken the place of Halloween on the list. (Confession: I held on to trick-or-treating for an embarrassingly long time.)

BUT!! As of two weeks ago, I have a new favorite holiday!


At the end of every semester, UML pulls out all the stops to help students decompress and take a step back from the stress of upcoming finals and the stress from college life in general.

Why is it the best holiday? Two reasons…

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You don’t have to fake it ‘til you make it

you don't have to fake it 'til you make it

There’s truth (and science!) behind people saying that positive thinking makes you feel better when you’re stressed out or in a slump. But sometimes the advice that “you should be more positive” doesn’t help when you’re already stuck in your head and feeling alone.

These feelings are what graphic design students, Sundilynn, Cathy, Ivanna, Alecia and Emily, tackled this spring semester in an interactive art piece. Their mission? Shining a light on students’ emotional health. They wanted their classmates to know that they didn’t have to fake being happy because they weren’t the only ones with negative feelings, and that they wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be alone in working through them.

Supportive and positive thinking is the heart of UML’s culture

It all started with an assignment for the class, Form and Content (ARTS.2010) with Prof. Jennifer Houle. The students were tasked with creating a public art piece, and they decided to install the art in the gazebo on South Campus.

They wanted to draw attention to everything college students go through on a daily basis and to help spread positivity around campus.

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I’m in a glass case of emotion


Even though I have no part in reading applications or making decisions about the future of students accepted to UMass Lowell, I write a lot of the content that goes out to UML hopefuls.

A few weeks ago, I looked over the accepted/denied/waitlisted emails, and I had *feelings*.

Checking over those decision emails for grammar mistakes pretty much destroyed me. I got in my head about how important these decisions are and how someone (an actual human with actual human feelings and hopes and dreams) will read their decision email and feel things.

And then I kind of spiraled and forgot how to spell and use words that were more than a single syllable. I can’t help but wonder if my co-workers felt this weird blend of overwhelm and empathy with prospective students the first time they went through this side of the college acceptance process.

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The Point.

The college admissions process is stressful for everyone involved. You’re not alone in whatever heavy stuff you’re working through. You may feel like you are, but if you take a minute to look around you, on YouTube or Twitter, you’ll find that there are a lot of other people going through the same thing. I promise, you’re not alone, and you’re awesome for working through this.

Where ever you are today and no matter how many college decision letters you’ve read, you deserve happiness. You are more than the decision that a university makes about you.Click To Tweet

It’s easy to get stressed out about college decisions and caught up in what’s going to happen next year. So, take a minute to breathe and acknowledge your stress. It’s normal to feel stressed about this. And then let it go.

It’s finally spring.

Go outside and enjoy it. It was 54 degrees in Lowell on the first day of spring. Take a walk. Hang out with your friends. Do the things that you love just for the fun of it. It’s your last year of high school, and your biggest goal now should be to enjoy every minute of it.