Most Likely To Succeed: Dillon Hodges

Born and raised in Florence, Ala., Dillon Hodges has been surrounded by Bluegrass music all his life. But when the 22-year-old singer/songwriter began his own career, he had one goal in mind.

“I try to make the music that’s true to who I am and music that I would want to listen to…music that’s appealing to everyone,” Hodges says. “I like to expose new music to people that they wouldn’t normally listen to.”KWDillonHodges3

Hodges graduated from the University of North Alabama in May 2012 with a double major in accounting and entertainment management. He started playing guitar when he was 11 years old, and has since learned mandolin and banjo as well.

“From the time I was 11, I played at the Fiddler’s Cafe in Tuscumbia, Ala., every Friday night until I was probably 16 or 17,” Hodges says. “It definitely got me over the heeby jeebies of playing on stage and talking in front of people. I was a really shy kid before that.”

Hodges has played several shows throughout the South, and his first album, “Rumspringa,” will be coming out May 14.

Hodges currently lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife Elise, and hopes to continue furthering his career as an artist.

“As long as I’m able to make a decent living making music I’ll be happy,” Hodges says. “The artist thing is certainly what I love the most, but whether it’s writing songs or teaching guitar lessons or playing…as long as I’m making music I’ll be happy.”

For more information about Hodges and his upcoming album visit

Photo provided by Dillon Hodges

Boutique blossoms in Birmingham: Get an inside look at The Pink Tulip

The Pink Tulip in Birmingham, AL window displayNestled in a row of stores in downtown Homewood, the cheery window displays and feminine pink and black exterior of The Pink Tulip boutique are eye-catching.

Once you enter, there’s even more to see. Look in one direction, and you’ll find a wall of fashionable scarves. Glance in another and you’ll find a table of beautiful jewelry or a rack of lacy tops.

Owners Letty and Duff Algren opened The Pink Tulip in 1986 as a gift store in the southside of Birmingham. Eventually the store evolved into the lady’s clothing and accessories boutique that it is today.

“The logo was actually my mother’s handwriting,” Letty Algren says. “We put it together really fast, the whole business. She just kind of drew it out, and I still use that same logo today.”

Algren says the store carries casual wear and accessories that are intended for a variety of women.

“We don’t really have an age limit. We literally have customers that are 12 and 14, all the way up to 70,” Algren says.

She looks for trendy but conservative pieces for The Pink Tulip. She describes the boutique’s aestheticThe Pink Tulip in Birmingham, AL as “very ladylike.”

In addition to its stylish selection of merchandise, The Pink Tulip also offers a warm atmosphere. The store is filled with lively music and a welcoming staff called “wardrobe consultants.”

“A lot of stores you go into, people won’t even speak to you. You won’t find that here. You’ll be greeted just like you’re going into somebody’s home,” Algren says.

As for The Pink Tulip’s future, the boutique seems to be blooming. In March 2012, The Pink Tulip opened another location in Mountain Brook. Recently the boutique has worked toward growing its online presence with both a website and an active Facebook page.

Photos by Julie Matthews


Corey White’s first season shows prosperous future

Corey White August 17, 2012

In the spring of 2008, Dunwoody, Ga. native Corey White signed on to play football at Samford University in Birmingham. Little did White know that four years later, he would be trying out for NFL coaches and scouts, eventually becoming the highest draft pick in Samford history and playing professional football for the New Orleans Saints.

White, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back was drafted as the 162nd pick overall, impressing the Saints with his ability to cover receivers in big-game situations.

“[On draft day] I was at my house in Atlanta, watching on TV,” White says. “When they called I couldn’t hear anything because my family was so loud. I didn’t really even know who called until they showed my name. I almost broke into tears.”

Getting to the NFL from a school such as Samford is no easy task. In fact, only one other Samford product, Cortland Finnegan, has played at the professional level. However, the school is becoming more successful in producing professional football players; a big part of that was when Samford hired Sam Shade as cornerbacks coach in 2009.

Shade, who helped prepare White for his NFL tryouts, spent nine seasons as a professional football player and brought a fresh perspective to Samford’s coaching staff.

“When Coach Shade came in and took over the defensive backs with his pro experience, he really helped me learn how to be a better player and a better person,” White says. “He knows what it takes to survive as a pro athlete. He’s got four children and a beautiful wife. At Samford I was able to sit down and talk to him about life as well as football.”

White recorded 31 tackles and an interception in his rookie season in a backup role with the Saints. He started four games as a fifth defensive back, including in a nationally televised game against the Denver Broncos.

His first NFL interception helped the Saints to a 31-27 win over White’s hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons. White’s interception came early in the third quarter and led to a Saints touchdown.

“The first time playing my home team, I was very prepared,” White says. “I got several tackles and a key third down stop, and then that interception. It was very special playing that kind of game against the Falcons.”

A knee injury cut White’s 2012 season short, but now that he has a year’s experience under his belt, the second-year defensive back is ready to take more of a leadership role on the 2013 Saints defense.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” he says. “We’ve got a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan, who has coached some pretty intense defenses. I love intense defensive coordinators so I’m looking forward to him.”

White hopes that his success, along with the experience of Samford’s coaching staff, will help bring more attention to his alma mater.

“What I do and what they see Nick [Williams, a fellow Samford football player] do is an example,” White said. “We’ve got the talent, now we need to get the scouts coming out. Maybe in a couple of years, once we put someone in the league from here on down, teams will notice.”

Photo provided by Michael Hebert (New Orleans Saints)

4 dystopian novels to read after ‘The Hunger Games’

Regardless of how hard you’ve been hit with “The Hunger Games” mania, there’s only so many times you can read about Katniss’s exploits without wanting something new. Luckily there is a plethora of novels to fulfill your dystopian desire. Dystopian novels such as “The Hunger Games” are a literary genre that presents an unfavorable society, often set in a hypothetical future. Instead of rereading “The Hunger Games” this summer, give these four dystopian books a try.

JMDystopian1For the moviegoer: “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
If there’s one dystopian poised to become the blockbuster, it is “Divergent.” “Divergent” is set in a world divided into five factions based on different virtues. When it comes time to choose a faction, Tris forgoes her parents’ selfless Abnegation faction for the brave Dauntless faction. Tris initially enjoys her Dauntless training but eventually learns that this perfectly divided world isn’t quite so perfect. This fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down novel is a perfect beach read. Be sure to read it before the story hits the big screen in 2014.



JMDystopian2For the video game lover: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline
With copious pop culture references and a virtual reality setting, “Ready Player One” is tons of geeky fun. This dystopian set in 2044 describes a future in which the OASIS, a virtual reality paradise, is the only escape from a gloomy real world. Despite the fact that it has remained unsolved for years, Wade is determined to solve a massive treasure hunt hidden within the OASIS. When one day he finds the first puzzle, everything starts to change. “Ready Player One” is “Second Life” meets “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and the result is a ridiculously fun adventure.



JMDystopian3For the adult fiction fan: “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro
While there’s no shortage of dystopian novels, it can be hard to find a good adult one in the sea of young adult fiction. For those looking for a slightly more serious read, “Never Let Me Go” is an excellent choice. This beautiful novel is the story of Kathy’s time at Hailsham boarding school. The dystopian aspect may initially be hard to see, but as the novel progresses, the true nature of Hailsham becomes clear. Grab a box of tissues before reading this tear-jerking dystopian drama.




JMDystopian4For the classicist: “1984” by George Orwell
It’s easy to dismiss classics as boring, but “1984” is a chilling dystopian well worth reading. First published in 1949, “1984” features a speculative totalitarian future governed by an all-seeing leader known as Big Brother. It follows Winston and his attempts to rebel against Big Brother. If you’ve never taken the time to read this classic, give it a try this summer.




Photos courtesy of Amazon

Birmingham’s here to witness a Magic City Revival


Resting atop Red Mountain, the Vulcan in its 75 years of watching over the Magic City, can tell that something new is in the air. He hears people talking, sees them getting into their cars and driving over the mountain and into the city.

There is a reason he has never turned back to look at the suburbs. For even the Vulcan knows downtown Birmingham is the place to be.

In the past five months, Birmingham has watched new developments change the skyline of the city. A new entertainment district reshaped the layout of the city’s convention center, the BJCC. Birmingham’s historic minor league baseball team made the move from Hoover to Railroad Park. And businesses like Iron City helped to make downtown a happening destination.

“I have lived in Birmingham all of my life, and I have never heard or felt more positive things about downtown than now in any of my 40 years of living here,” says REV Birmingham CEO David Fleming.

As a non-profit organization, REV Birmingham centers on the revitalization of Birmingham’s city center and surrounding neighborhoods. Fleming says the city has come a long way, considering its disadvantages transitioning into the 21st century.

“Being an industrial-based city for the majority of its life, Birmingham had to transition. Cities like Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Cleveland had to learn how to evolve,” Fleming says.

“It puts us a little bit behind the service-based cities like Atlanta, Jacksonville and Nashville, but it’s because they did not have to do a complete 180.”

Despite the set back, Birmingham is growing now more than ever. The city has seen a 32 percent growth of people moving into the city since 2000. Business growth has also increased from 2011 to 2012, and 2013 is promising even more.

“All of the trends are pointing in a positive direction. There are still challenges, but people have a much more positive view of the city. All of the major signs show that we are moving in the right direction,” Fleming says.

Embracing Our History

Moving in the right direction does not mean leaving behind the rich history that makes Birmingham so unique. Regions Field is a direct reflection of this fact.

DSC_0766The Birmingham Barons have called Birmingham home since 1885. Its history includes the the Birmingham Black Barons along with a variety of name changes, including The Birmingham A’s and Birmingham Coal Barons. It even includes A-list players like Willie Mays, and who can forget about Michael Jordan’s short stint?

The team began at the Slag Pile, later moved to Rickwood Field, America’s oldest ballpark, and then to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. And now, after 25 years, the team is making the move back downtown.

“I have been with the Barons for 20 seasons, [this is] my ninth as general manager, and there is no doubt that the level of enthusiasm and excitement for our move downtown has really spread across the entire metro community,” says Birmingham Barons General Manager Jonathan Nelson.

“I think a lot of people view it as an opportunity for the downtown area to be more of a destination to come to on a regular basis.”

Nelson says there have been talks about building a new stadium for years, but after Railroad Park opened in 2010, the timing seemed right more than ever before.

“This opportunity became available, and it made sense on so many different levels to explore the opportunity. And the more we explored it, the more we saw that it could be a reality,” he says.

The Barons broke ground on Regions Field in February 2012, and on April 10, 2013, they opened it for their season home opener.

“We believe that this new ballpark at Regions Field really offers something for everybody, for individual fans, families, church groups, civil groups and businesses,” Nelson says.

“The ballpark concourse will be open everyday. People will be able to access it if they want to run or walk through Railroad Park, they’ll be able to run through Regions Field’s concourse as well,” he says.

“People can sit down, look at the ball field, have lunch or read a book. It will be open.”

Turning on the Glitz

From Regions Field, turn down 19th Street until you hit Eighth Avenue North. Though you will recognize the area as the BJCC campus, so much about it has changed.

The biggest project to be unveiled this year is Uptown, an entertainment district anchored by the existing BJCC and a brand new Westin Hotel.

With 1.2 million people visiting the BJCC each year, the project proves to have huge potential for locals and visitors.

Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Vice President for Marketing and Communication Dilcy Hilly says she couldn’t be more thrilled at the potential Uptown provides.

“It’s a great addition to the city. It has given a lot of sizzle that just has been needed for a long time,” Hilly says.jfToddEnglish11

The project broke ground in January 2011. The Westin Hotel with its 294 rooms, rooftop pool and bar officially opened during Valentine’s Day weekend this year. Opening within the hotel was the Todd English P.U.B., the second location for Todd English, a James Beard award-winning chef. The original is located in Las Vegas.

Executive Chef for the Birmingham location, Jamie Pruitt, says the restaurant has received a great response from the community.

“I think people are happy to have us here in Birmingham. We have hired more than 100 people in the community, and I think it’s great that we are a part a very big project that will link us to the community,” Pruitt says.

Other restaurants to open in the area are Texas de Brazil and Octane Coffee, adding to the already vibrant restaurant culture scene downtown.

“So much has opened in the past few years – Brink and Tin, Vittoria, El Barrio – in the downtown area that is a part of the BJCC area,” Hilly says. “We are really proud of the cuisine in this city. It is an outstanding thing to have that much good food going on in a city this size.”

Establishing a Scene

Traveling back to the south side of town, the opening of Iron City, a music venue on 22nd Street South, adds to Birmingham’s growing music scene.

Iron City1Production manager Michael Creager says owner Steve DeMedicis began to work on his concept three years ago. After purchasing an old warehouse, originally used as a car dealership, he broke ground on restoring the space a year and a half ago.

Creager says the decision to build the venue in downtown Birmingham was an easy one.

“Steve is a Birmingham guy. I am too. This is home to us,” Creager says.  “We want our city to be excited about downtown.”

“I love downtown. Steve loves downtown. There is just a lot of cultural reasons to bring a focus back to the heart of the city, to restore arts, entertainment, business, gas stations, grocery stores, bringing it back to our generation and generations to come,” he says.

With three stages and a 1300-person capacity, Iron City will stand as a unique venue in the city, providing a larger space than Workplay. But like Regions Field, Creager says they do not want the venue to serve an exclusive purpose.

“We are not solely a music venue. We can accommodate a musical performance from small to large scale, but we also want to host a multitude of other events to help sustain the public’s view of a venue our size,” he says.

Now that the venue is built, Creager says he is excited for the potential it provides for Birmingham’s growing music scene.

“[Birmingham] is an incredible place, and this is something that Birmingham is very deserving of. I have always felt that we had more talent than we had industry in the city,” Creager says.

“Now the rest of the country, with the recent emergence of Alabama music in a national spotlight, has started to change public opinion about what the South has to offer in the entertainment industry, specifically Alabama.”

Setting Change in Motion

The thing about revival is that it is never static, but instead always growing and changing.

“Our goal is a vibrant city, and a vibrant city comes from people not just projects,” Fleming, of REV Birmingham, says. “We want to see people work here, play here and live here.”

And to create this community downtown, everyone has to chip in and help. The burden does not rest on a single organization.

“The way [the Barons] look at it is that we are part of the process through which so many great things are occurring in 2013. We talked about the entertainment district on the North side. We talked about the Westin hotel opening up as well. And you talk about us opening up in April. We are a part of the overall process of revitalization for Birmingham,” Nelson says.

“Of the things opening in 2013, I don’t think one is going to be the difference maker. All of those three in addition to everything that follows is what will continue that process,” he says.

And if this is only the beginning, it’s impossible to not be excited for what Birmingham has in store next.

“We don’t even known how our city, particularly downtown, will be different and vibrant in the next 10 years because of these investments that have been made and are being made, not just on the big scale. A lot of small things really add up,” Fleming says.

So what’s stopping you? Downtown Birmingham is ready, and it’s calling your name. Don’t miss out on all it has to offer you.

Story by Sarah Waller and Jennifer Ferry
Photos by (in order of appearance) Jackie Long, Sarah Waller, Jennifer Ferry and provided by Iron City

The View From Where I Stand

It’s not easy being the largest cast iron statue in the world. But someone has to do it.

I know I make it look easy just standing here overlooking the beautiful city of Birmingham 24/7, 365 days a year, but don’t be misled. I’ve lived through a lot.

When I was chosen by the Commercial Club in 1903 to represent Birmingham (I am, after all, the Roman god of fire and forge, and Birmingham was, after all, positioning itself as the iron and steel making capital of the South), it would be a 30-year process before my 56-foot-tall, 100,000-pound body would be erected to my final resting place.

Since that day I’ve witnessed many major changes and events in Birmingham; not all of them I enjoy remembering.webshot copy

I looked on as the Civil Rights Movement unfolded before my eyes. I was there when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, and I watched in horror when a public safety commissioner in 1963 turned high-powered fire hoses and police dogs on African American protestors.

I’ve weathered freezing temperatures and flooding rains. In 1993 I watched as the city was buried 13 inches of snow. In 2011 I stood helplessly as our city and neighboring cities were terrorized by multiple tornadoes.

But the view from my 124-foot pedestal hasn’t always been a bad one.

I’ve gotten to watch as the city of Birmingham has grown in both size and beauty through skyscrapers, parks and more. I’ve lived in the place called home by people like Courteney Cox, Bobby Bowden and Condoleezza Rice. I’ve been visited by groups of friends, families, prom goers, newlyweds, newborns, bored college students and people of all ages, genders and races.

Life for me has had its ups and downs. I’ve been moved around, taken apart, re-erected and more. But Birmingham is my home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo by Katie Willis

Out of the Shadows: How The WellHouse is Exposing Sex Trafficking in Birmingham

WellHouse As a teenager Tajuan McCarty was trafficked from Atlanta, Ga., to Birmingham, Ala., by her boyfriend-turned-pimp. “I was trafficked so much to Birmingham it became home,” McCarty says, which is why 25 years after her first visit as a victim of exploitation, she is back to fight the very system she was once a part of.

In July 2010 McCarty heard God calling her to open a shelter for exploited and trafficked women in Birmingham. She answered that call and opened The WellHouse in January 2011. In the two years it has been open the shelter has rescued more than 50 women.

The WellHouse describes itself as a “place of grace” on its website. Women who are trapped in sexual exploitation can come for rescue and restoration with no questions asked.

“I just wanted to help the ladies here in Birmingham. I know there are a lot of them and there’s no place for them to go,” says McCarty, who holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and two masters degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“I’ve done social work for years so I knew there was a gap, that they had nowhere to go. And so God just laid it on my heart to open The WellHouse.”

While most shelters require women to be drug free or have identification in order to enter, The WellHouse’s only requirement is that they are victims of sexual exploitation who want a way out. The shelter can house up to six women at a time, and the women are encouraged to stay as long as they need to.

“Sometimes they come in and they stay five minutes and sometimes they stay for a year,” McCarty says. “They can stay because there’s really nowhere for them to go.”

When women come to The WellHouse, McCarty makes sure their physical needs are met first. Most of the time they come with only the clothes on their back, but they soon receive all new things.

“They don’t get anything trial-sized because trial-sized says you’re temporary,” she says. “I want them to have the best, and God’s honored that.”

The same goes for how the house is decorated. The walls are colorful and the décor is inviting because McCarty wants the women to walk in and feel special.

But visitors shouldn’t be deceived by the beautiful and pristine condition McCarty keeps the house in. This is not an easy ministry, and the women she works with are fighting deep inner battles.

“There’s no woman who, if she’s healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, would ever sell herself,” McCarty says. “She has psychological chains you can’t see that are worse than anything you could ever think of.”

McCarty is no stranger to the chains binding the women she helps rescue. She used to blame herself for being sexually exploited.

“It took me 25 years to realize I was a victim. This is not something you grow up thinking you want to do.”

She finally found healing in Christ, but it wasn’t easy. “I didn’t believe in Jesus because I was taught growing up that if you did this you were going to hell, and if you did that you were going to hell, and I’d done it all.”

Even now, McCarty admits she still has days of insecurity and doubt. “In the back of my mind, Satan will just get in it and say, ‘You’re just a nothing, you’re just a prostitute. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, that’s all you’ll ever be.’”

On those days she finds comfort and purpose in the gospel. “Jesus loves prostitutes. His lineage is from a prostitute,” she says. “He didn’t turn the Samaritan woman away. He loved her, and she’d had five live-ins.”

The WellHouse’s work goes far beyond the women who find protection within its walls. Every Monday, McCarty and others hit the streets of Birmingham to share the gospel and pray with men and women they meet. They hand out Bibles and hygiene items and let women know about The WellHouse.

Spreading the Word

McCarty is also a vocal advocate for trafficking victims, speaking at conferences and using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to inform the public about trafficking in the United States.

In January, The WellHouse launched an online awareness campaign highlighting trafficking along the interstate that brought McCarty to Birmingham so many years ago. I-20: The Sex Trafficking Superhighway takes a closer look at the major connector between Atlanta and Birmingham. Interstate 20 is the number one roadway for trafficking in the country according to the video.

“This stuff is happening in truck stops up and down the interstate. It’s not just the method of transportation; it’s also the theater in which this thing plays out,” says Executive Creative Director for Lewis Communications Spencer Till.

Till is the creative force behind the video, which has been viewed more than 15,000 times. As soon as he heard about The WellHouse, he knew he had to get involved somehow.

“[At first I thought] there’s no way this could be happening. This is Birmingham,” Till says. “[But then I started asking] ‘What can I do to bring this to light? What can we do to bring this out of the shadows?’”

Over the next year, Till and his team spent their free time researching and filming, talking to victims, truckers and public officials. What they found is that the problem of slavery on the interstate is particularly bad at truck stops.

Girls frequently approach the truckers offering their company while their pimps are around the corner watching. If an unfamiliar vehicle pulls into the station, the pimps signal the girls, and they disappear so quickly that even an observant driver wouldn’t notice that something was amiss.

“It illustrates how we can be so clueless about what’s going on. We drive up and down the interstate every day without realizing what’s happening,” Till says.

Becoming Aware

Awareness is key in the battle to end human trafficking, especially in our own backyard. Victims aren’t just foreign nationals, they’re girls from right down the street.

“It’s mind-boggling how innocent it starts. No matter where you live or what you do or what your upbringing is, anyone can become a victim,” Till says.

“When you’re a teen you go through kind of a rebellious stage, and they [the pimps] are capitalizing on that. And it’s so easy for [girls] to get their heads turned by a guy who starts giving them a lot of attention and giving them gifts or by a girl that always has nice clothes and seems to have a great life,” Till says of the ways that girls are lured in.

Trafficking can happen to anyone because the high demand for commercial sex creates a need for a high supply of women, an important reality to consider when approaching how to end sex trafficking.

“If you can cut off the demand, you can cut off the supply,” Till says. “If you can bring it into the light and make it taboo, then maybe you do have a shot at getting rid of it.”

Looking to the Future

Only four other shelters in the United States do what The WellHouse does, and the need for shelters is great.

“I’m finally wrapping my mind around the United States, that that’s where God’s leading us. Because there are not enough beds,” she says.

She recognizes that there’s a long way to go toward ending trafficking and that it’s a difficult road filled with obstacles.

“This is not nice clean ministry where you go in and feed people and everyone is full and you walk away and [think] ‘Aw I’ve done a good thing,’” she says. “There are many days where I walk off this front porch and go, ‘Oh Lord what am I doing? Have I made a difference?’”

But her faith in God’s provision and the ways that she has seen Him bless The WellHouse keep her going.

“I don’t know how big your God is but my God’s really big. He made all 27 million of those slaves plus all the moons and stars and heavens and earth and everything,” she says. “My God is bigger than that, so if we get together, unified in Christ, then we can make a difference.”


To learn more about The WellHouse visit 

Photos by Rachel Freeny 



Most likely to succeed: Meredith Toering

Meredith Toering has a plan that is unlike the typical post-college setup; she is moving to Iraq the day after graduation.

Toering has accepted a job with Preemptive Love Coalition, an international aid group seeking to train Iraqi heart surgeons and nurses.

“The goal of PLC is to eventually put themselves out of business and get Iraq to a place where it can provide all of its own medical care and be self-sustaining,” Toering says.

It is no accident that Toering finds herself on the brink of this cross-continental move. She is confident that the Lord has been leading her to this point.

“The summer after my sophomore year I lived in a Chinese orphanage with special needs children. I was a nanny to an 18-month-old little girl with a heart defect and absolutely fell in love with her. My family adopted her eight months later,” Toering says. “She has had the heart surgery that most of the surgeons in Iraq are being trained to do right now.”

Although an admitted adventure seeker, Toering knows that going to Iraq is the Lord’s idea, not her own. She is not afraid but purely excited for what is to come.

“I know I will be safer over there and in the center of God’s will than I would be here outside of His will,” Toering says.


Written by Courtney Price

Photo provided by Meredith Toering

Pick 5: How to beat stress during finals week

By Katie Stewart and Katie Willis

Finals Week in college is synonymous with stress and anxiety. But Exodus has five things to keep you from going crazy at the end of the semester.

image_11. Pancake Study Break

Be sure to head over to Shades Mountain Baptist Church tonight [May 6, 2013] from 9 p.m. to midnight to get a head start on getting rid of stress for finals. Who can turn down delicious pancakes and good conversation with friends?

2. Exercise   photo (10)

Exercising to relieve stress is nothing you haven’t heard before, but if you’ve never actually taken the advice, now’s a good time to try it. Going for a run (or any physical activity that elevates your heart and breathing rates) causes your body to increase its endorphin production, putting you in a better mood and making the pain of studying a little more bearable. Plus it helps burn off some of those pancakes.

image_23. Jam it out

When you’ve been cooped up studying for hours on end, a dance break is always a good idea. Make a playlist of your favorite songs to dance to and periodically take 10 minutes to turn the music up as loud as you can and sing at the top of your lungs. In the words of Ella Fitzgerald, “the only thing better than singing is more singing.”

4. Laugh  image

Don’t take yourself too seriously during finals week, it only makes the situation worse. This is the last week of hanging out with friends before
you head home for the summer, so enjoy it! Take a break and go see a funny movie or hang out at a local coffee shop with friends. It’s not good to take yourself too seriously.

photo 5. Stop and breathe

Go into a dark, quiet room and focus on absolutely nothing. Try drinking a hot cup of coffee or tea. Take long deep breaths and clear your mind.

Photos by Katie Stewart and Katie Willis