Study break tips for students

Hammocks strung up around the Coral Gables campus provide an outdoor study option for students during finals. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

By Ashley A. Williams

Hammocks strung up around the Coral Gables campus provide an outdoor study option for students during finals. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Study break tips for students

By Ashley A. Williams
With finals around the corner, the Division of Student Affairs and the Counseling Center offer tips and resources available to students to help reduce stress.

Holiday season is here, classes have come to an end, and finals are rapidly approaching. Before heading home for winter break, University of Miami students must first complete exams and finish final projects.

During this time, stressors may be at an all-time high. The Division of Student Affairs, the Counseling Center, and other departments across campus understand how stress may manifest as students prepare for finals, and have come together to bring the student body relief and resources to manage accordingly.

Identifying stressors is an important step to finding a healthy, positive way to manage them. Krystal-Ann Stephen and Dorothy Addae are doctoral interns in health service psychology at the Counseling Center and both agree that stress comes in many forms and are not created equal.

“Stress can look different in different people, part of it is noticing when you start to feel off,” said Addae. “That’s a baseline for the self. Some of the symptoms to look out for are various things like: difficulty concentrating or feeling like you’re not quite aware of things, sleep issues, appetite changes, irritability, for some its nail biting or jaw clenching. An overall energy that just doesn’t feel good.”

To alleviate stress, Stephen and Addae recommend taking a break from the books to give yourself proper self-care like interacting with others or rewarding youself for your hard work.

“I like to encourage students to give rewards to themselves," said Stephen. “So, if you’ve studied for a few hours maybe you can go out for ice cream, take a walk, or go out with a friend.”

While cramming the night before an exam may sound like a great idea to ensure you’ve gotten all the answers, recent studies have shown that cramming is actually harming you more than helping. Taking a break in between your study routine every 90 minutes can improve your focus and attention.

Stephen continued, “Try to figure out what is a priority to you. If you have a lot of classes to study for, break down the number of hours you study using a calendar or set alarms. It doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily eliminate or change altogether your schedule but it helps you, if you can take a break every two hours.”

The Counseling Center understands that before or during finals week, physically visiting the center may not be possible. That prompted Rene Monteagudo, center director, and his team to recently unveiled a new online service: WellTrack, an interactive, self-help and therapy application that will let students receive counseling on the go.

“If you’re maybe having trouble talking one-on-one with somebody this is an alternative for you to use to manage stress,” Stephen said. “You just need to logon using your UM ’Cane ID and password. It gives you tools, exercises, and homework assignments to help manage things like major common depressive symptoms and anxiety.”

The mobile application can be downloaded through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

De-stressing activities can be as unique as a snowflake, and range from exercising and taking a nap to taking a snack break or listening to your favorite podcast.

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Division of Student Affairs has students covered with a “Study Break.” From noon to 2 p.m., students can enjoy food trucks (with vouchers), giveaways, and de-stressing activities on the Foote Green. That evening, Study Space at The Rathskeller takes place from 6 p.m. to midnight. There will be pizza, coffee, snacks, tacos, cookies, and candy available for students taking a few minutes of break time between study sessions. A late night breakfast bar with milk and cereal, fruits, pastries, bagels, and more will also be available.

 “I think it’s just tough because when you’re in it, it feels like it’s all that matters," Addae said. "Just know that in two weeks you'll be able to say you got through it. It’s the belief that you will get through it that won't allow the stress to become so big that it incapacitates you.”

Where to study during finals:

Richter Library, open 24 hours now through Tuesday, Dec. 11

Kornspan Study Lounge in the Shalala Student Center, open 24 hours through Thursday, Dec. 13.

Whitten University Center, open 8 a.m. until midnight through Thursday, Dec. 13