Seasonal stress: Recognizing, coping and helping

Students in Fondren Science BuildingThe holiday season traditionally brings warm memories, shared friendship and a significant amount of stress for members of a university community. The pressures of exams, travel plans and preparations for family gatherings can overwhelm faculty, staff and students alike – especially new undergraduates facing their first college finals.

The Office of the Provost asks that all SMU community members be aware of signs of stress in themselves and those around them. “In particular, I ask that you be aware of signs of stress among students, especially first-year students as they enter into their first set of final examinations,” wrote Provost Paul Ludden in an e-mail to SMU faculty and staff dated Nov. 15, 2010.

Any faculty or staff member who has concerns about a student and is not sure what to do is urged to refer to the University publication A Guide For Faculty and Staff for Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress (PDF format) or to contact Dean of Student Life Lisa Webb, 214-768-4564. Students who feel overwhelmed by the stress of the season and finals can get help at the Memorial Health Center.

Faculty and staff members can share information securely and confidentially through the Dean of Students’ Caring Community Connections website (SMU ID and password required for access).

In addition, regular physical exercise at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports can help individuals stay fit for the season while relieving the stress it can bring.

Ludden also encouraged all SMU community members to “reach out to an individual who is separated from family and friends at this time and invite them to share some of your traditions and goodwill.”

Check in with these campus resources for referral information:

In addition, SMU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a variety of online resources for faculty, staff, students and parents in dealing with stresses ranging from anxiety and trauma to insomnia and homesickness.

About Kathleen Tibbetts

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