Awakening the dead for the new semester

Start the new year by revitalizing the mind and body with stress-relieving activities around Philly. In the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 17, 2010, Samuel L. Paley Library was filled with the stragglers of

Start the new year by revitalizing the mind and body with stress-relieving activities around Philly.

In the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 17, 2010, Samuel L. Paley Library was filled with the stragglers of the Fall 2010 semester who were waiting to knock out their remaining final exams
As one walked down the aisles hoping to stumble upon an empty seat, snoring students surrounded by empty Red Bull and Monster cans occupied most areas – one student was spotted giving himself an audible pep talk for a chemistry exam. But one can’t forget the notorious “zombie” students, with bloodshot eyes and pale skin, staring emotionlessly at their computer screens.

During the last two weeks of every semester, it seems as though a pandemic infects Main Campus, morphing every student into a zombie-like corpse. Instead of blood and brains, they crave 7-Eleven nachos and Super Gulps; they lurch unnaturally to classrooms and to the TECH Center. On the weekends, they can be seen breaking into synchronized dance to Usher’s “OMG.”

This zombie-effect is a relatively new, yet terrifying variant in the evolutionary process of young adults; while scientists and psychologists have yet to find a definitive cure, they believe increasing levels of stress are to blame.

The stress of homework, social life, extracurricular activities and jobs does not just manifest itself physically. A study conducted by the American College Health Association in 2009 revealed that 46 percent of college students feel “hopeless” about their futures and education; nearly one-third of students surveyed were found to be depressed with having difficulty performing daily tasks.

Stress and anxiety can manifest in other psychological manners. Often, your body takes the hardest beating during these times. Excessive weight gain or weight loss and skin breakouts caused by a poor diet or a lack of exercise can lead to further stress and insecurity.

On average, Kristie Hartz, a 20-year-old speech pathology major, said she spends about one-to-two hours on schoolwork per day but also works an average of 20 hours per week among her three jobs. Hartz also said she experiences skin breakouts when she stresses over school or work.

In the worst-case scenarios, serious body-image disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia or bulimia, in both men and women, result from the physical and mental side effects of stress.

As a New Year’s gift to yourself, avoid the zombie disease and manage your stress responsibly. Temple and Philadelphia offer hundreds of ways to relieve stress and anxiety in a healthy manner through physical fitness, mental-health counseling, time-management counseling and opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy week.

Exercise has proved to be one of the better alleviators for stress; the endorphins released increase dopamine levels and can bring one back to their normal, day-walking self.

While James King, a 23-year-old elementary education major said his stress level was minimal, during midterm and finals weeks, his stress peaks. Besides schoolwork, he works more than 20 hours a week at a restaurant in Center City. To relieve his anxiety, King prefers to play video games and lift weights.

Philadelphia hosts countless gyms and studios that can be used as stress-relieving outlets.

If yoga’s your thing, try Dhyana Yoga, a yoga studio with several locations in the greater Philadelphia area. It offers various levels of yoga, from beginner to advanced, as well as private classes, meditation and AcroYoga, a combination of acrobatics and yoga. For more information on locations, class schedules or instructors, visit

For gym junkies, the 12th Street Gym, located at 204 S. 12th St., has two floors of classes, weights, cardio and gymnastics equipment, a pool and tanning services. It offers monthly, one-, two- and three-year long memberships.

And for those similar to Hartz, who said she prefers the combination of exercise and music, Philly is also home to several dance studios – modern and ethnic. Koresh Dance Company is one of the most critically acclaimed studios in the city and offers introductory, beginner and intermediate classes in ballet, jazz, modern jazz, hip-hop and tap. Located at 2020 Chestnut St., Koresh holds classes seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for  $10. Its website holds a free coupon for a $5 class.

For an ethnic release, Studio 1831 offers belly dancing, salsa, Zumba and Middle Eastern drumming. The studio, located at 1831 Brandywine St. in the Art Museum District, has been voted the best yoga studio in Philadelphia by Philadelphia City Paper and offers private and group classes.

If the zombie infection is too deep and exercise is too difficult, there is always the option to follow a natural stress reliever. Crying is believed to be the natural way to relieve stress and anger, much like sweating relieves the body from overheating. For a tear-inducing, sniffle-starting movie, head down to the Paley basement for a free flick. The 7-Eleven on Liacouras Walk and the Fresh Grocer in Progress Plaza store $1 rentals through Redbox.

However one chooses to relieve stress and fight off this zombie plague, it’s important to remember to be good to your body, mentally and physically.  If classes, work or your social life ever become too much to handle, Tuttleman Counseling Services, at 1801 Liacouras Walk, is open five days a week for walk-ins and appointments.

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at

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