Incorporate relaxation into studying

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December 3, 2010

1:33 AM

With papers and exams, finals season brings little holiday cheer to campus. The stresses may pile up with the papers and tests, but it’s important for students to handle the stress effectively. As a campus, the College of William and Mary offers many resources to de-stress during finals.

Health Outreach Peer Educators makes de-stress kits available to students near and in Swem Library during the next few days. With bubble wrap, coloring sheets, tea and even a do it yourself stress ball kit, the de-stress kits are designed to help students approach finals from a stress-free mentality. The kits even contain tips on time management and muscle relaxation techniques.

The de-stress kits are not the only ways to relieve stress during finals. Learning how to balance stress in various ways is critical to surviving finals season.

Whether it’s Yule Log or Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination, many events on and around campus can help ease the pain of finals. Setting aside time for a break, whether holiday-oriented or just a quick moment away from your studies, is an important step to prevent stress.

“Breaks are good to let you know that you’re not alone,” Mental Health Branch Vice President of HOPE, Emily Brown ’12 said. “I know sometimes we’ll lock ourselves in a study room and feel that we’re all alone, but everyone else is going through it too. It’s nice to feel that community.”

Study breaks are important events to fit into the work schedule. Managing time efficiently also helps to reduce the stress that late-night cram sessions can cause.

Although Swem Library and the study rooms are synonymous with work, they do not have to be synonymous with feeling overstressed. Listening to music, stretching, or taking a quick snack break are easy ways to get rid of stress while in Swem Library. Learning how to individually kept stress at bay while at Swem helps to not make Swem Library the enemy during finals.

Campus Massage to install eight massage chairs in Swem to offer students free massages during finals. First introduced last year, the massage chairs were highly popular, according to Student Assembly Sen. Erin Mee ’11. This year, Mee sponsored a bill to approve free massages in Swem Library during finals. Four chairs will be located on the first near the television and couches area and the other four will be stationed in the read and relax area.

“One unit of four chairs will be located on the first floor of Swem near the TV’s and couches area. The other unit will be located on the first floor in the Read and Relax section of the library,” Mee said.

The chairs are free to students to use starting December 6 and ending December 15.

Another way to avoid during finals is to remember to take care of your body. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are all keys to staying healthy during finals. Sleep can be beneficial to combat stress and getting at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night is critical in preparation for exams. Often, knowing when to call it a night can help reduce your level of anxiety.

“Basic self-care strategies go a long way,” Susannah Owens, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at the Counseling Center, said. “Focus on what you can do, manage your worries as you are able, take time for fitness, attend to sleep and nutritional needs and talk with friends to deal with finals.”

To combat the feeling of exhaustion, students should remember nutrition and exercise. Healthy foods help to keep the mind focused and energy levels high so that studying becomes a conquerable task. It’s always tempting to reach for the sugar-packed foods when you’re under stress, but making sure to keep a nutritious diet helps performance, both mentally and physically.

When de-stressing does not seem to work, the College of William and Mary has multiple resources for students. The Counseling Center remains open during finals and allows students to schedule appointments. William and Mary’s Academic Support website offers more tips on how to manage the exams and the Office of Health Education’s planner contains tips on avoiding stress.

Stress management is unique for each individual. Study breaks are one of the keys to managing stress, but for every person, the type of breaks that help them relieve stress most effectively varies. For each student, learning their personal preferences will help them manage stress during finals.

“De-stressing is an individual process. What works for someone might not work for you,” Brown said. “The main thing is finding what works for you and making sure that when you’re really stressed out, you take some time for yourself.”

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