The end of semester can be stressful – so PSWS finds ways to help students cope

The library and health services offering a variety of programs to ease stress
Students in library

A group of students take advantage of the space and amenities in the PSWS Library.

Credit: Penn State

It’s hard to believe that the Fall semester is almost over and the holidays, along with a new year, are almost upon us. While many are excited about the prospect of being done with classes and nice long break, the last week or two of a semester can be stressful – with looming deadlines for class projects and the dreaded finals week.

Students are not only preparing for the upcoming holiday, they’re working, and working hard to complete their coursework and prepare for final exams. With so much stress inherent in these situations, the campus library, along with health services, have organized a variety of events to help students cope.

This week, from Dec. 5-9, is Stress Busters Week on campus. Every day there will be activities that students can take part in to relieve stress and make their studies a little easier.

On Monday, there will be free massages available to students in the Sherbine Lounge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 6 p.m. No appointments are necessary. Students, faculty and staff can walk right in at any time during these hours and take part in a relaxing massage. Students come first, and must be given first priority, but all are welcome, said campus nurse Jill Thoman.

“If you know what stress is, and what helps you to relax, then you will do better at anything you do, not just class finals and presentations,” Thoman said.

This week, she is helping students learn the importance of stress busting activities, which in turn will educate students on what stress is and how to reduce it. “One of the best tips is so simple: Breathe!

If you take the time to do some deep breathing, it decreases your heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. “I know that sounds too simple but I can show them how it works scientifically,” said Thoman. “Many other ideas include stress balls (yes, they really work!) coloring, pet therapy, exercise, healthy eating… and I could go on!”

For more information on stress techniques, take part in the many activities offered on campus described below or visit Nurse Jill, as she’s known on campus, in her office on the ground level of the SLC next to the Hawk Student Success Center.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the View Café hosts Stress Bingo from 3 to 4 pm. All students are encouraged to come and play for their chance to win many exciting prizes.

Wednesday, Dec. 7, the campus’ Chorale and Jazz Band, along with the Roc[k]tets, will be performing from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in The View Café – getting everyone in a happy holiday spirit.

Two very different activities will be available on Thursday, Dec. 8.  Comedian Adam Grobowski from America’s Got Talent will be on campus from 12:15-1:15 p.m. at The View Café. That same afternoon, there will be a stress relieving drum circle in The View Café from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

The campus Library is also doing its part to help students cope while they study and work on their final projects.

“Unwind Your Mind” will take place all week long, giving students who visit the library to get their work done a chance to enjoy some free refreshments and serenity. There will be games, puzzles, coloring sheets and crafting available to faculty, staff and students as well, allowing everyone to ‘unwind’ and take a break from their studies and workday to enjoy some healthy relaxation.

“A variety of games are available that should interest anyone looking to take a fun study break, whether a novice or more serious gamer,” said Acting Head Librarian Kristin E.C. Green. “The games include Chess, Checkers, playing cards, Clue, Scrabble, and the less known games of Love Letter and Ascension. The puzzles station of course has some jigsaw puzzles, but also has crossword puzzles and sudoku puzzles. The coloring station features all types of images to colors and fun coloring tools to use. The crafting station has both origami and knitting, and includes some how-to books for students interested in picking up a new stress-relieving hobby.”

For those who enjoy a more traditional, quiet library atmosphere, the Penn State Worthington Scranton Library recently created designated Quiet Zones on the ground floor, where students who want or need a quiet, less social study environment can go to work on projects or study quietly.

“If a student feels that the main floor of the library is too noisy for their studying needs, they can work downstairs on the designated quiet study floor. The entire lower level of the library is a designated quiet study area.

This means that students, and anyone else using that floor, are expected to keep conversations brief and whispered, to have headphones on if using media with audio, and to keep cell phones on silent mode,” explained Green.

In addition to the above amenities, the PSWS Library also has a collaborative room that students can reserve in order to study in groups or to work on group projects. To reserve online, students just need to go to:…

"If there are any questions on how to access any type of material from any University Libraries collection, just ask! We are more than happy to help you find a particular article, video, or book chapter you may be looking for,” Green advised.

The library will have extended hours as well:

• Monday-Thursday, Dec. 5-8, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

• Friday, Dec. 9, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

• Sunday, Dec. 11, 3 to 11 p.m.

The hours are slightly adjusted for finals week:

• Monday, Tuesday, Dec. 12-13, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

• Wednesday, Thursday, Dec. 14-15, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

• Friday, Dec. 16 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

CLOSED Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 17-18

And, when your studying is done, or maybe you just need a break from it all, remember that the library also has popular books and graphic novels and non-fiction collections located in the Leisure Lounge!

“Students are able to take out any books from those collections over the break before the next semester begins. What could be better on a snowy winter day that curling up by a fire and getting into a new story?” Green asked, adding, Perhaps, as a librarian, I'm a bit biased.”