CJ Smith has felt immense pressure to keep up with in-person classes this semester and is starting to feel the pressure of having to be in the classroom to take his final exams.
“It’s been hard to get back into a routine, and it’s stressful keeping up with that all semester after not having to leave my room for class for over a year,” said Smith, a junior finance major.
Students are dealing with the stress of in-person classes and finals this semester for the first time in almost two years since Temple University shut down and switched to primarily virtual learning in March 2020. Organizations like Service and Serotonin, Active Minds and the Wellness Resource Center are attempting to alleviate the pressure by providing mental health resources and events throughout finals week, which is from Dec. 9 to Dec. 15.
The transition back to in-person learning can create more stress or anxiety for students, said Janie Egan, mental well-being coordinator at The Wellness Resource Center.
“It’s a big change to go from being at home to being expected to do all of the normal activities when life for a year and a half was so different,” Egan said. “It takes time to adjust, and that has produced more stress for students.”
Smith has taken other in-person exams this semester, and the stress he felt taking those exams is making him more nervous for his one in-person final exam, he said.
“Being in-person is definitely an added pressure,” Smith said. “I can’t remember the last time I took a Scantron test, so that’s nerve racking, especially being in a room of students when we haven’t been for so long.”
Service and Serotonin, a mental health club, is hoping to help students relax during finals and aims to bring awareness to mental health issues through volunteer work in the community year round.
Service and Serotonin will hold a yoga session on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. in Room 200D of the Howard Gittis Student Center. They will also hold a “study and vent” Zoom session on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m., where students can study while also expressing their feelings or frustrations during finals, said Aashi Shah, a senior biology major and president of Service and Serotonin.
Active Minds works to destigmatize mental health issues on campus, by holding general meetings and campus events, said Mia Stavarksi, senior art therapy major and president of Active Minds. They plan to post affirmations and resources on their social media pages from Dec. 6 to Dec. 10 to help students destress.
Members in Active Minds also have extra work and stress during finals, which is why they have their activities online, so members do not need to worry about hosting events while taking finals, Stavarski said.
“It’s something that we can at least provide for students to help them feel supported during finals,” Stavarski said.
Emmanuela Melody, a sophomore political science major, who has three in-person finals, feels more stress for this semester’s finals than she did last semester.
“It’s difficult adjusting to being in-person, and learning how to study again for in-person tests,” Melody said. “The stress is more compelling now since classes are more than just completion and we have to focus on engaging on top of other things that could be going on.”
Melody attended the WRC mental health tabling event on Dec. 6 in the student center, and felt that learning about resources to focus on her mental well-being was beneficial and will help her throughout finals week.
WRC is hosting two Zoom events —“Staying Present: Using Mindfulness to Manage Stress” on Dec. 7, at 3:30 p.m. and “Owl About Stress” on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.— and one in-person event, “Destress with Dogs,” at Charles Library on Dec. 8 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to teach students about managing stress, Egan said.
Hosting programs for students to explore ways to practice self-care and relax during finals is important for student’s well-being, and can help them be more productive in their work, Egan added.
“We really want to share practical tips and strategies that students can use to take care of themselves, or maybe support a friend,” Egan said. “It seems like folks are really resonating with that, especially during this stressful time.”