The end of Spring semester 2019 is just a few weeks away. Almost 7,000 students are tackling their closing assignments before for the summer break: exams, research papers, thesis, capstones, final recitals and concert performances. And for almost 2,000 Otters, their upcoming graduation is on the horizon. There is a lot of activity, as well as a lot of stress.
To help mitigate some of the end of the semester pressure on students, departments and offices across the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus have again teamed up to provide a wide variety of activities during the Welcome to Finals Week (WTF) initiative, designed to give practical and tangible student support, that started at CSUMB in 2016.
Included in this effort are the library, Associated Students, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center, Communications Across the Disciplines, CSUMB Alumnae Association, A’viands food service, Basic Needs Initiative, Personal Growth and Counseling Center (PGCC), Residential Housing Association, and Center for Cooperative Learning (CLC).
WTF involves many events as a collaboration between campus partners to support students during the stress of assessment week. “Some of the (new) events include a welcome fair, prize raffles, relaxation station, eggs after dark, mindful madness and a dodgeball tournament,” said Lauren Reagan, newly appointed Director of the Cooperative Learning Center. Jackie Ceccato is the CLC committee head for WTF and a detailed information flyer will be available in the upcoming days.
As in the past, support for students includes school supplies giveaways, extended librarian service hours, on-site therapy dogs, “pet rock” decoration sessions, 24-hour availability of crafts and puzzles tables, painting sessions, as well as the welcome snacks and drink.
CLC takes a particularly active role that includes extended tutoring session hours during the “Long Night Against Procrastination” held at the CLC offices on the second floor of the library on May 1 and May 8 from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Last year, there were more than 100 students who benefited from support given by 15 to 20 professional staff from CLC, PGCC, library faculty and 10 to 15 tutors. “The Long Night Against Procrastination is a way for the CLC to help students succeed in their finals and avoid the end of semester cram,” said Reagan. “We extend our tutoring hours and provide a space for students to work in collaboration with tutors or in quiet study spaces. We also have a librarian on duty during this time helping with citations and research.”
In addition to the practical support of WTF, there are several proactive end of semester stress management tips that can help reduce the stress level including the following:
- First, have a positive outlook as the situation could always be worse than it is. Look for opportunities to smile and laugh, and try to avoid people already stressed, as that attitude can certainly become contagious.
- Keep what needs to be done in perspective. Taking each assignment, each exam or project step-by-step as dwelling on all that needs to be done is a good recipe for building up one’s stress level. Write down a schedule and “to-do” list that includes a study plan with organized notes. Organization can help relieve stress.
- Learn to say “no” in order to simplify the use of personal time. Don’t allow unnecessary distractions to take away time needed to study or complete a project.
- Exercise. Be active. Take breaks to be refreshed and give the brain a rest. Although less than 5 percent of body weight, the brain consumes 20 percent 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.
- Get more personal interaction. Find a study buddy or group, working together on a similar goal can relieve stress while reinforcing the knowledge base.
- Get needed sleep and when needed, take a short “power nap” to rejuvenate and refresh.
- Monitor diet and don’t skip meals. Certain foods help reduce stress levels, for example those with vitamin B and C. Carbohydrates release serotonin, which in turn helps to decrease stress and improve moods. Avoid junk food and caffeine which produces the same negative side effects as stress: rapid heartbeat, insomnia and anxiety. Sugar also has a negative boomerang on the body. Foods high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables give a sensation of being full – hunger doesn’t typically produce the best results for an exam. Peppermint can help relax a stressed digestive tract.