Give Me a (Study) Break!

“When students are able to take a moment away from their studies for ‘me time’ or just a simple shift of focus, it helps them feel better,” says Student Wellness Coordinator Satya Nelms, “and it also makes them more productive when they return to their work.”


Finals are right around the corner, and with them come the inevitable study marathons in McCabe Library, all-nighters in the dorms, panic over papers, and stress over tests. Thankfully, relief is near at hand--and this year, Swarthmore is expanding its menu of stress-busters to help students manage end-of-semester angst.  

"While programs that address stress management are important throughout the year, stress levels among students reach an all-time high toward the end of each semester-particularly during reading week and finals," says Student Wellness Coordinator Satya Nelms."When students are able to take a moment away from their studies for 'me time' or just a simple shift of focus, it helps them feel better," she continues, "and it also makes them more productive when they return to their work."

Here are some of the ways that students can relax and blow off steam:

•        Midnight Breakfast, which actually starts at 10:30 p.m., is traditionally held on the last night of reading week (this year, it's Thursday, Dec. 13). Students from all over campus come together in Sharples Dining Hall to commiserate and share in a food fest served by faculty, staff, and President Rebecca Chopp. Offerings include pastries, juices, cereals, waffles, and a healthy serving of moral support.

•        Primal Scream. As breakfast draws to a close at midnight, students everywhere stop in their tracks, open their mouths, and scream at the top of their lungs. Those who can't get to Sharples open windows wherever they are and join in a collective howl that reverberates across campus and signals that final exams have begun. "The primal scream is unbelievably tension-releasing," says Alexandra Huber-Weiss '13. "The whole campus comes out to show support for each other. It's just a great community bonding experience."

•        Bedtime story. Students in search of sleep may find solace in McCabe Library on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., where Associate Professor of Political Science Keith Reeves will be on hand to read a bedtime story, part of a yearlong Bedtime Stories Series featuring faculty and staff readers.

•        Crafts and cocoa. Swarthmore's Wellness Program and McCabe Library will jointly sponsor a craft station where students can make snowflakes and partake of hot cocoa and snacks. The date and time will be announced soon.

•        Gifting wellness. Nelms will host "Give the Gift of Wellness," a study break where students can get a head start on holiday giving and make homemade face scrubs, lotions, lavender satchels, and cards for loved ones, on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 from 1-3 p.m. in Shane Lounge, Parrish Hall.

•        Wellness, fitness, and working out. Regular weekly wellness and fitness drop-in classes-including yoga, meditation, and zumba-will be offered throughout exam week. Students can also work out at the Mullan Center, which maintains regular hours during finals.

While stress-busting activities help to relieve exam-time anxiety for most students, some may need extra support. They are encouraged to contact the Dean's Office, Worth Health Center, or Swarthmore's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)."We know that finals are often a time considerable stress for all students," says Dean of Students Liz Braun. "We want our students to know that we are here to support them whenever they need it."