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Looking to de-stress during midterm season? Rutgers has you covered

<p>Rutgers organizations are attempting to make midterm season a less stressful time of year for students like Amanda Osei-Bonsu (left) and Janibell Encarnacion (right), by providing events like animal therapy and guided self-care programs.</p>

Rutgers organizations are attempting to make midterm season a less stressful time of year for students like Amanda Osei-Bonsu (left) and Janibell Encarnacion (right), by providing events like animal therapy and guided self-care programs.

This midterm season, organizations around Rutgers University are hosting events and giving out tips to help students de-stress during exams.

The Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), has a page on their website dedicated to tips on how to prepare for exams and cope with academic pressure. Their website states that anxiety during exams can be a beneficial in making students motivated and alert, but too much anxiety can be distracting. 

The website lists several strategies to alleviate stress, such as tutoring resources, meditation techniques and apps like “Breathe2Relax” and “Relax Melodies” that help with relaxation and stress management.

There are also events all over campus to ensure that students have the opportunity to take a break from the books and unwind with their peers. From resident assistant programs in residence halls to campus events hosted by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), campus leaders are encouraging students to go to these events to balance their social and academic life.

Gina Sbrilli, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is a resident assistant on campus and plans programs in her residence hall to help relax students during stressful times.

“(Resident assistants) plan five programs each semester that aim to help residents meet people and get away from school, even if it’s for 5 minutes just to grab a slice of pizza," Sbrilli said. "Residents can go someplace that isn’t class or their room and do something different. Whether that’s, say, planting a plant for their room or listening to a rep from VPVA speak.”

She said the events are usually hosted in the evenings during the week and the goal is to break students out of the stressful cycle and "bubble" that exams can create.

Residents tend to appreciate doing something other than school for even a short period of time, Sbrilli said.

Residence Life follows something called "CARES Model," she said. Community, academic, responsibility, equity and self-advocacy are the main principles of the model. Every resident assistant does one program in each of those categories a semester. An example of an academic program could be bringing in a dean to talk about registration for classes, and a responsibility program could be giving out condoms and talking about safe sex.

The RHA is another organization on campus that plans programs around midterms and finals week. Last year, they hosted a large event on Livingston campus called the "Livingston De-Stress" event, which entailed several hands-on, stress-buster activities including making bracelets, origami and stress balls. There were also free on-site massages and snacks.

This year, RHA continues to host de-stress events. Nonye Okafor is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and a member of RHA.

“We currently are planning de-stress events for the next upcoming months. Usually, our de-stress events will either be passive or active," Okafor said. "Passive, being an event where we hand out 'exam survival goodie bags' stocked with a few items that are essential to being prepared and relaxing during their exam. An active event would be a holiday event where we play a film, provide food and host games for the residents to enjoy and meet others.”

RHA hosts these de-stress events throughout the school year, but especially during midterms and finals weeks, he said. They attract students from all years and are hosted on every campus.

“We all know college is stressful, but residence halls and apartments are somewhere each resident should be able to relax, feel comfortable and enjoy. Our job is definitely to bring home to the halls and the best way to do that is to make sure our residents feel like they have a support system. We hope to be that support system for them especially during exams when they’re feeling homesick or like they need some extra encouragement," Okafor said.

Sbrilli said these programs are essential to keep students academically successful and mentally healthy.

“(The programs are) important because you can’t be successful academically if you don’t take care of yourself in all other aspects of your life — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually," Sbrilli said. "We all know the feeling of constant stress (and) our goal is to alleviate it, even if it’s just for a few minutes."

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