"Humans of Sacred Heart" – Dr. Melissa Otero

With the end of the school year approaching, final exams, and projects, how do you recommend students manage their time to make studying as stress-free and productive as possible?
“With so many events on the calendar this time of year, one of the most helpful things you can do is take some time to plan.  Sit down with your planner or calendar and look at what you have coming up between now and the end of the school year.  Write down your exam and project due dates, your after-school commitments, and your special events. Then try to estimate how much time you’ll need to study or work on projects.  Block out that time in your calendar too.  This will help you feel like you have a roadmap for the days ahead and ultimately help you stay more organized and less stressed.”
Whenever a student gets anxious, how would you recommend she stays on track and keep herself calm?
“It’s so important to remember that anxiety is a normal human experience.  One of the most helpful things that I do when I’m anxious is I ask myself a simple question: ‘how can I help myself right now?’ There are many ways to help yourself when you’re anxious, and we may need different strategies for different moments.  Sometimes dropping everything and just getting to work is the most helpful thing, other times it might be taking a break, doing a short meditation, going for a walk, talking with a friend, listening to music, doodling, or just thinking about something positive in your life.  Not sure what you find helpful?  Think about the little things that put a smile on your face and find a way to do those things when you’re anxious, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  Also, never underestimate the power of a big deep breath.  Deep breathing has been found to release helpful neurochemicals that boost positive feelings.”
What is the most valuable piece of advice you could give a student to maintain calmness in the final stretch of the school year?
“As difficult as it may seem, plan to do something you enjoy each day for at least 15 minutes.  If you only have five minutes, that’s okay.  Also, plan fun things for the future.  So, the same way that you’re putting all of your exams on your calendar, make sure to plan ways that you’ll celebrate when you’re all done.  It can be really motivating to look down at your planner and see that you have something you’re excited about coming up.  Best of luck to everyone over the next few weeks.”
The King Street Chronicle thanks School Psychologist, Lead Wellness Strand of the Department of Student Support Services, Dr. Melissa Otero for her contributions to “Humans of Sacred Heart.”
Photo by Christine Guido, News Editor
-Compiled by Christine Guido, News Editor