Ditch the stress before the test

Carolers may sing that this is “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it can also be the most stressful for students.

Final exams are approaching, and — adding to the workload — many final projects are due this week. The shopping and traveling of the holiday season also be a source of tension.

However, there are many techniques students can use to help them relax.

Yoga and Meditation
While some students might not think they have time for a yoga session, even the simplest exercises may help.

Jill Douglas, a teacher and manager at the Tampa yoga studio The Lotus Room, said she suggests a three-part breathing technique to reduce stress. The exercise involves taking long, slow deep breaths that expand one’s stomach, rib cage and chest all the way to the collarbone.

“The word ‘yoga’ itself means union, so it is talking about finding union between the body, the mind and the spirit,” Douglas said. “And when we have that state of balance, we’re in our own natural state of harmony and ease. That is when we are able to reduce stress from our lives.”

The USF Recreation Center offers a number of free yoga classes for students, and studios such as The Lotus Room offer student discounts.

Aromatherapy is, according to National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), based on the idea that “essential oils are powerful tools that may alter, shift, change and adjust mood, emotion and physical issues.”

Belinda Leto, owner of Luminous Glow Candle Company, said the most popular candles for relaxation among her customers are lavender and eucalyptus.

Lavender helps people relax, and is useful in treating wounds, burns. It also helps to balance hormones in women and is good for the skin, NAHA stated. Additionally it can serve as an antidepressant.

Eucalyptus is helpful in treating respiratory problems such as coughs, colds and asthma. It also helps boost the immune system and relieve muscle tension, according to NAHA.

Leto said it is not just the candle scents that help with relaxation.

“Even sometimes the ambiance of the flames with the lights off is relaxing,” she said.

Students can be seen lining up to get their coffee fix on campus. However, coffee can only give a jolt of energy, said Kim Pham, owner of Kaleisia Tea Lounge.

“If they are needing to study and need the energy to stay up, then caffeine is necessary,” she said. “The difference of the caffeine in coffee and the caffeine in tea is the caffeine in coffee will make them crash. The caffeine in tea is gradual and it is an alertness, so they won’t feel tired.”

There are also many caffeine-free teas that are known to help sleep, like chamomile, rooibos (red tea) and herbal teas.

“Any of the rooibos tea is really good for relaxation,” Pham said.