Return to The AAPP Perspective issue main page.< Previous Article  Next Article >
Melissa Marietto, PharmD Candidate 2021, CPNP Chapter President 2019 – 2020
Kazi Rubaina, PharmD Candidate 2021, CPNP Chapter Vice President 2019 - 2020

‘Finals week’ is a term that can immediately cause symptoms of stress and anxiety in students around the globe. Although a college curriculum can bring forth otherwise dormant symptoms of depression and anxiety, finals week is often a time where all students can feel and suffer from a degradation of their mental health. Many institutions have counseling centers equipped with staff who are able to accommodate sessions for students during these stressful times. From 2007 to 2017, there was a 15% increase in college students seeking mental health services; this number has only grown over the past few years as mental health awareness has increased and stigma has decreased.1 However, with an increase in demand for counseling center services at college institutions, the number of students being turned away has increased due to a lack of resources and availability. Students are also less likely to get adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise during finals week due to the increased workload and time constraints of assignments, thus preventing them from engaging in proper self-care. As an organization dedicated to decreasing the stigma surrounding psychiatric and neurologic diseases, our chapter took the initiative to provide students with an outlet to combat their stress and anxiety during finals week. 

The first ‘Meditation Room’ was created to serve as a place where students could breathe, meditate, relax, and sit in silence for 15 minutes during a study break. With assistance from the university, we were able to secure yoga mats and a classroom to help us create a serene, peaceful environment. The Calm app, a reliable resource for those suffering from depression, anxiety, and insomnia, was used to play relaxing nature melodies. To bring the brain into a calm state, we used lavender and citrus aromatherapy to ease any tension students may have been experiencing. Lavender has evidence supporting its use as an anxiolytic and in producing calmness and wellness in those experiencing stress, anxiety, and mild pain.2,3 Citrus may also help relieve symptoms of negative emotional stress and depression.3 For a full submersion of our primary senses, we made sure to keep the lights off and set up yoga mats for students to rest comfortably. Our executive board also supplied students with healthy snacks and a stress ball to support them after when they dive back into their books. Before leaving the meditation room, students were asked to participate in an anonymous five-question survey to help analyze improvements for the following semester. Ninety-two percent of students rated their experience to be effective and 100% of students reported wanting to see the meditation room be implemented in the following semesters. By creating this environment, we provided students with an opportunity to take a breather, recharge, and remind them that self-care is important, especially during times of intense pressure and stress.

The COVID-19 outbreak has raised concern for student’s mental health as quarantine restrictions, death, and uncertainty are factors influencing our day-to-day lives. Also, some students have been placed back into environments that are harmful and detrimental to learning, are facing financial hardships, and are lacking a “normal” routine.4 Although it was not possible to recreate the ‘Meditation Room’ this semester, we encourage students to take the same simple methods and implement them into their daily routines, especially during exam times. Start by creating a relaxing ambiance for yourself by investing in candles or diffusers with scents that will promote calmness and reduce anxiety. Next, take the time to research different apps available on your phone that provide you with resources you can enjoy. For example, if meditation isn’t your forte, try to find a resource that focuses more on relaxing melodies. It may take some trial and error, but don't be discouraged in finding the best source of relaxation for you. Lastly, make sure to give yourself a break when studying by using your new app, scents, and shutting off the lights to fully engage in your senses. Creating this routine for yourself will allow you to begin your journey to self-care and help reduce some of that stress and anxiety you may be experiencing during finals week at home. 


  1. Lipson SK, Lattie EG, Eisenberg D. Increased rates of mental health service utilization by U.S. college students: 10-Year population-level trends (2007-2017). Psychiatr Serv 2019;70(1):60-63. doi:10.1176/
  2. Malcolm BJ, Tallian K. Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time? Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(4):147-155. Published 2018 Mar 26. doi:10.9740/mhc.2017.07.147
  3. Sánchez-Vidaña DI, Ngai SP, He W, Chow JK, Lau BW, Tsang HW. The effectiveness of aromatherapy for depressive symptoms: a systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2017;2017:5869315. doi: 10.1155/2017/5869315.
  4. Anderson, G. (2020, September 11). Students in great need of mental health support during pandemic. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from
Return to The AAPP Perspective issue main page.< Previous Article  Next Article >