With finals season just around the corner, college students nationwide are feeling the pressure to perform well academically. I talked to Cierra Womack, a stress management peer, to get some advice on how to deal with the different stressors of college life.
Grace Asiegbu: Tell me a little about SMP and what you guys do on campus
Cierra Womack: Stress Management Peers (SMP) is a peer education group trained through the McKinley Health Center. We facilitate workshops related to stress, time management, and relaxation across the campus for classes, Greek life, residence halls, etc. We also try to spread positivity through tabling with our positivitree (people can write or take a positive message from the tree), passing out stress packs around finals, and hosting events like the Stress Less Party which happens in the spring, and Break Away from Stress which happens in the fall.
GA: What are stress packs?
CW: They are things that may come in handy during finals season like coupons to local
restaurants, tea, snacks, a stress ball, and stress management tips.
GA: What is the Stress Less Party and Break Away from Stress?
CW: Break Away from Stress and Stress Less Party are events to help people de-stress. There's stress ball making, free massages, free food, and information on stress management. The Stress Less Party is a bigger event, in that we have other peer education groups table as well.
GA: What are some common ways that stress manifests?
CW: In my opinion, procrastination and over commitment are the
common ways stress manifests. When someone is over involved, their commitments tend to pile up which can be pretty overwhelming causing one to feel they have too much to do with a little bit of time. Also, procrastinating contributes to stress because it can keep one from completing assignments and other important tasks in a timely manner, this leaves one to complete things at the last minute, which for some individuals, can create a high stakes environment where stress levels are higher than normal.
GA: It's finals season, how does that impact the stress levels of students (generally, that you've seen)?
CW: Finals season is filled with many projects and exams. I think this is when a student's stress levels are at their peak because these assignments and exams are happening within such a short period of time and tend to matter a great deal to one's final grade.
GA: How can students effectively study (read: cram) for finals without getting burnt out?
CW: My biggest suggestion is to study sooner rather than later in small bits amounts. It really makes a difference because you are able to retain information better and have the opportunity to ask for clarifications.
GA: What are some positive coping mechanisms to deal with stress and pressure?
CW: Don't be afraid to take a quick break, whether it be taking a nap, watching a tv show,
reading, or working out, having that alone time can be helpful (when used in moderation).
Having a talk with someone you are comfortable with about your current stress is also very helpful just to blow off some stress that may be weighing you down.
GA: If a student wants to join SMP, who can they talk to/what can they do?
CW: If interested in joining SMP, contacting Rebecca Stolberg, the Graduate Assistant, by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get further information. One can also provide their
contact information to any peer they may encounter on campus. We will be having our interest meeting for the spring Wednesday, February 1st at 5pm, location TBD.
*The views expressed in this report are the authors’ alone and are not necessarily shared by the “Hear My Voice…” organization or publications or the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champ