Students and stress: How to help during 2013 holidays, exams

SMU students in Fondren Science BuildingAs SMU enters both the holiday and exam seasons, SMU Provost Paul Ludden is asking that all University community members watch for signs of stress in themselves and in students.

“We ask each of you to be aware of signs of stress in yourself and those around you. In particular, I ask that you be aware of signs of stress among students, especially first-year students as they are experiencing their first set of final exams,” wrote Provost Ludden in an e-mail message dated Friday, Dec. 6, 2012.

He also asked faculty and staff 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.”

The message included helpful tips and University resources for staying healthy and safe. In addition, Ludden urged faculty and staff members to visit SMU’s Caring Community Connections homepage for information on identifying and helping students who may be in crisis.

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

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 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, and find a complete list of sexual misconduct resources, 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 provides service to campus with an SMU ID: 214-768-7433. Charges are applied to the student’s account.

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: