Students and holiday stress: Coping and helping

Students in Dallas Hall RotundaAs SMU enters both the holiday and exam seasons, the Office of Student Affairs is asking that all University community members be aware of signs of stress in themselves and those around them.

“The holiday season brings with it a combination of special events and sources of stress – exams, final papers and other projects. At this time in particular, I want to remind you of SMU resources to help you with everything from tutoring and test preparation to coping with anxiety and caring for your health and safety,” wrote Vice President for Student Affairs Lori White in an e-mail message to students dated Nov. 28, 2012.

The message included helpful tips and University resources for staying healthy and safe. In addition, White urged students to visit SMU’s Live Responsibly homepage for additional information.

Advice and resources for a safer and more stress-free season follow under the jump.

Tips for final exams and a successful, healthy and safe holiday season

Seek academic support. The Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center provides tutoring and workshops: 214-768-3648.

Make time for exercise. Regular workouts at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports can keep you fit and help relieve stress while preparing for exams.

Care for your health. Eat regularly and try to avoid those all-nighters during finals week. If you start feeling under the weather or would like to talk with someone one-on-one to help with stress, contact these resources:

Develop healthy relationships. Communicate your expectations and limitations regarding physical contact. Understand that no means no, and also that sexual assault is a crime and violation of University policy.

  • If you are a victim of a sexual assault, seek medical help and contact police as soon as it is safe to do so. Learn more about how to obtain help and report an assault at
  • For confidential assistance, call SMU’s Office of Psychological Services for Women and Gender Issues: 214-768-4795 (an emergency contact is provided at all hours).

Be responsible with alcohol. Frequently consuming alcohol or consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short time will not only interfere with your studies, but also can put your health and safety at risk.

  • For help with alcohol or drug abuse problems – or if you know someone who needs help – contact the SMU Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention; 214-768-4021.
  • Please do not hesitate to call for help if you or a friend are in need of medical attention because of drinking or drug use. Refresh your knowledge of the SMU Call for Help Program at

Be alert and aware of your surroundings. During this time of year, many students are out late at the library, getting coffee, socializing with friends or going for a run around campus. Avoid jogging or walking alone, especially after dark. Make sure others know where you are. Carry a whistle or noisemaker.

Call for a security escort after dark.

  • Giddy-Up offers free rides on campus from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily: 214-768-1111.
  • SMU Police provide campus rides when Giddy-Up is not available: 214-768-3333.
  • SMU Rides provide free one-way emergency nonstop service to campus from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday with an SMU ID: 214-768-7433.

Take self-defense classes. SMU’s Sexual Harassment Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP) program helps defend against physical attacks and sexual assault: 214-768-2607.

Know how to reach SMU Police.

  • Call 911 from a campus phone.
  • Call 214-768-3333 from a mobile phone on and off campus.
  • Pick up a blue-light phone on campus.
  • Note: Calling 911 from a cell phone on campus or from an off-campus phone will connect you with area police but not SMU Police.

If you see something, say something. Report suspicious people or activities, such as a person you don’t recognize loitering in a parking lot or following students into a residence hall. Call SMU Police, or report anonymously at 214-SMU-2TIP.

Learn more at SMU’s Live Responsibly website: