Center offers tips for stress reduction

Michelle Kibiger

Students need more than winter survival kits to bear the added stress at the end of the quarter. They need effective time and stress management skills.
Marilyn Becker, the acting director of the University’s Learning and Academic Skills Center, said that as the end-of-the-quarter crunch presses students, there are some handy tools and tips they can use to ease the tension.
Becker said the center has learning assistance appointments for students to meet one-on-one with a counselor regarding a specific problem. Whether the students need help dealing with stress, test anxiety or time management, counselors meet with them up to three times each quarter to help alleviate the problems.
No particular problem plagues students more than another, Becker said. Individual students each face their own specific problems.
However, poor time management and procrastination are common complaints because students can easily identify the problems. Other students have trouble taking notes and worry when tests approach that they don’t have the information they need, Becker said.
The center keeps test files to help reduce some of the stresses students encounter as finals approach.
“The tests are an excellent way for students to prepare for finals,” Becker said. “They help students identify deficit areas” in their studies and thereby improve them.
The center also offers a course each quarter teaching students how to be more efficient and effective learners. The class is specifically aimed at helping students focus on their individual goals and directing their time and energy to achieving those goals.
Becker said the class has 12 sections each quarter with a 30-student limit in each section. She said most sections fill up by the end of the registration period.
Madge Alberts, an educator with the Minnesota Extension Service, said that quality-of-life issues are shared by students and non-students alike. “A certain amount of gotta-get-it-done’ stress is valuable,” she said. “It gets you up in the morning. But too much of this stress just makes you feel bad.”
Alberts originally developed tips for time management as a result of a study she and other faculty did regarding stress and dairy farmers. Results showed the farmers suffered the same anxiety experienced by everyone who juggles several responsibilities.
The study concentrated on the various stresses in the farmers’ lives. Alberts said financial concerns and day-to-day responsibilities caused much of the pressure farmers faced. She said the best way to alleviate daily stress is to plan ahead and set goals.
“To kind of just fly by the seat of your pants isn’t going to get everything done,” Alberts said.
Becker said that making it through the end of the quarter and finals also requires goal setting. She recommends “making a specific plan of attack for finals.”
The center is planning a workshop for surviving finals Tuesday, Nov. 26 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Becker said the session will focus on taking inventory of how students are performing in their classes and evaluating goals for the class.
She said that some problems plague students for longer periods of time and long-term counseling to alleviate those problems is also available.
Alberts also suggested that students avoid perfectionism. She said students can’t meet all of their expectations all of the time.
“Just do your best and be satisfied,” she said.