Winter break is around the corner, and the last hurdle for students to surmount before the end of semester and packing for winter break (or for some graduation) is the two to three week period where not only finals are given – but also research papers, thesis, capstones and special projects are submitted, as well as closing recitals and concert performances. Given the popularity of the Welcome to Finals week (WTF) at the end of semester, departments and offices across the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus have again teamed up to provide extra student support and encouragement.
The Library, Associated Students, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC), Communications Across the Disciplines (CAD), CSUMB Alumni Association, A’viands food service, AS Basic Needs Initiative, Residential Housing Association (RHA), Center for Cooperative Learning (CLC) and others have teamed up to provide a calendar of practical and tangible student support. On-site offerings – designed to mitigate what can be a stressful period or just provide a break from studies – include a supplies giveaway, on-site therapy dogs, “pet rock” decoration sessions, 24-hour availability of crafts and puzzles tables, a painting session, as well as the always welcome snacks, food and drink.
Stress is a real factor in student life, especially during exam and/or assessment periods and that is one reason why WTF Week was put in place. Various articles have been written with a full panoply of recommendations for students on how to reduce stress during this important period. Of course it is up to each person to decide what works best for them and make their own choices, but some of the popular suggestions are as follows:
- Simplify the personal use of time on your calendar and “just say no” to activities that take away valuable time or prove a distraction to studying for an exam or completing a project.
- Organize time by writing down a schedule and “to do” list that includes a study plan with organized notes. Organization can help relieve stress.
- Find a study buddy or group. Working together on a similar goal can relieve stress while reinforcing the knowledge base.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine which produces the same negative side effects as stress–rapid heartbeat, insomnia and anxiety. Sugar also has a negative boomerang.
- Take breaks to be refreshed and give the brain a rest. Although less than 5 percent of body weight, the brain consumes 20 percent of energy, and requires both fuel and oxygen. Exercise stimulates endorphins that improves the mood. A hot shower can relieve tension and cause muscles to relax. The WTF Week offerings mentioned above are designed to give students a choice of stress relief options.
- Sleep and when needed, take a short “power nap” to rejuvenate and refresh.
- Don’t skip meals and monitor diet. Foods with certain vitamins – for example, vitamin B and C – help reduce stress levels. Carbohydrates release serotonin which in turn helps to decrease stress and improve moods. Avoid junk food and take up the “real food challenge” to improve overall health and energy. Not only are fresh fruits and vegetables easy to prepare and easy to carry, but they give a sensation of being full due to high fiber content. Hunger typically doesn’t produce the best results for an exam. Peppermint can help relax a stressed digestive tract.