Its fall semester and mid-term exams are closing in. This is when college students tend to panic, especially freshmen. Exams they once aced in high school may be more difficult to prepare in college. Course work can be overwhelming and stress levels are high. During my career as Director of Student Life my office staff was ready and available to help students through this stressful time. We provided them with a list of suggestions on how to combat exam anxiety. We also scheduled special student events to help ease stress and tension.
Sleep: This may sound like a simple solution but it’s a common fact that new students do not get enough sleep during the first semester of their freshman year. If you are living in a residence hall it can get noisy. You may be sharing a room with another individual for the first time. Talk with your room mate about your down time and ask them to respect your need for sleep when possible. If your residence hall bed or home bed is near a window try purchasing light reducing curtains or shades. They will keep sunlight out if you need a power nap during the day.
Exercise: Whether you swim, run or lift weights a good work out at your university recreational facilities is an excellent way to combat stress. At most universities use of these facilities is part of your tuition payment usually listed as a general activity fee so take advantage of it.
Decaffeinate: All nighters usually involve numerous cups of caffeinated beverage, i.e. coffee, sodas, etc. Try switching to decaffeinated beverages an hour or two before you go to bed. Some herbal teas promote relaxation and ease you into a restful sleep.
Massage: During one very stressful mid-semester exam week we hired a massage group to give students a free ten minute shoulder and neck massage. The special event was well attended by both students and faculty.
Humor: Student entertainment activities like Comedy Nights, Movie Nights throughout the week of mid-semester exams are always a big hit. They say laughter is the best medicine. A good belly laugh can help reduce stress.
Comfort Food: Remember to eat before taking exams. Exam week is not the time to skip meals. Eating your favorite healthy comfort food can keep your focused and stay mentally alert. Treat yourself to a bit of chocolate or whatever treat makes you happy. I kept a big jar of jellybeans on my desk for students to snack on between exams.
Reward Yourself: Once exams are over reward yourself. Exams are tough and getting through them can be exhausting. Give yourself a hi-five for a job well done!
Deb Martin-Webster, former Director of Student Life
Temple University / Tyler School of Art