Vicky Tahos, '19, takes a selfie with the therapy dog Spanky, an 8 year old Shitzu, on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015 on the UC Front Lawn. The "De-Stress with Dogs" event for which Spanky was brought is an initiative to reduce Lehigh student's stress levels during 4 o'clocks. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W photo)

De-stressing in time for four o’clocks

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With the first round of four o’clock exams and major assignments also comes the late nights spent at FML or Linderman, ample coffee runs and stressed out students.

In order to deal with the anxieties that follow tests, projects and papers, Lehigh offers students a number of opportunities to reduce academic anxiety.

Rachel Sholder, ’16, the president of Peer Health Advisers, said that the health advisers have hosted De-Stress with Dogs for two years in a row. She said the purpose of the event is to allow students to relax and de-stress when the two week period of four o’clocks start.

In addition, Sholder said that the Peer Health Advisers offer six major programs for maintaining student health on campus. One of the programs is called Repress the Stress, which focuses on stress management. There is also Sleep for Success, which helps students develop healthy sleep habits. The programs can be found online and all organizations at Lehigh can partake in them.

For those inclined to burn off some energy and stay active through the stress of tests, Taylor Gym offers open recreational space and a number of other physical activity opportunities.

“It’s important when you’re stressed to take care of your body,” Julia Feindt, ’16, a fitness instructor for Taylor Gym, said. “This means not just exercise, but eating well so that your brain functions better. Making sure you’re eating healthy with fruits, vegetables and not a lot of unhealthy snacks, which can be not easy to do during four o’clocks.”

Feindt recommended focusing on taking breaks, rather than attempting to incorporate small bits of test or project material into every second.

“The body is used to going when it needs to and stepping back after, not just constantly going because that will lead to burning yourself out,” she said. “When you do agility exercises, like in the circuit training classes I teach, it helps your brain think more quickly.

“It also helps you with the mind-body connection necessary to perform better on tasks. Taking an exercise break can be one of the best things to help you study better over long periods of time — like overnight.”

Taylor Gym offers much more than just available recreational space for students, including fitness classes, one-on-one personal training and nutritional health information.

Feindt also said that the gym has MetroNap sleeping pods that are available to students who want to take a quick nap.

If students are looking for more direct academic preparation to relieve stress, the Center for Academic Success provides programs, tutoring and study skill information sessions.

Jill Arendt, the center’s study skills consultant, said her position is to assist students to be aware of things such as coping, time management and study skills. She said most students already know these skills, but she helps them implement them in the college setting.

Students can either sign up for one-on-one study sessions to help them organize and prepare for upcoming tests, or sign up for weekly meetings to stay on track during the semester. Tutoring is offered for many difficult courses, and information regarding tutoring can be found in the Center For Academic Success’s office, recently moved to the fourth floor of the newly renovated Williams Hall, or on the center’s website.

“The No. 1 tip I give to students, which they usually laugh about, is positive self-talk,” Arendt said. “It’s not something people usually think of, but it’s those little self-deprecating jokes that we all do that can put us down or give us that anxiety before exams.

“If you go into it with a positive attitude, saying ‘I know I got this’ or ‘I can handle this’ it can help quite a bit. That is definitely the No. 1 tip I give to my students when dealing with stress or anxiety. That, and having a study plan is really important. If you have a goal and no plan, it’s just a wish.”

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