The Daily Aztec

SDSU therapy dog helps students manage final exam stress

Back to Article
Back to Article

SDSU therapy dog helps students manage final exam stress

Courtesy of Jennifer Rikard

Courtesy of Jennifer Rikard

Courtesy of Jennifer Rikard

by Natalia Xibille, Contributor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

With finals starting, Associated Students and San Diego State’s Counseling and Psychological Services department are helping students manage stress and get through the challenging week of exams.

“One of the most important influences on stress is your perception of the resources you have available to deal with the demand you are facing,” psychology associate professor Lisa Kath said.

Baxter the therapy dog will be in Love Library for several hours on Dec. 11 and 14. He is also available by appointment at the Counseling and Psychological Services office. Students can pet Baxter and spend time with him to take their mind off of final exams.

The Center for Well-Being, which is open all year, serves as an important resource in the last weeks of the semester. The center is equipped with a massage chair, a meditation room and an alpha chamber, which is an enclosed pod that plays natural soundscapes and landscapes to soothe the user inside.

“Anxiety is the No. 1 reason why people come to the center,” Counseling and Psychological Services Director Jennifer Rikard said. “Some people will get really stressed and have panic attacks, crying spells and not be able to sleep.”

Stress is also linked to weakening of the immune system, frequent headaches and stomach aches, and decreases in cardiovascular health, Kath said.

However, Rikard emphasized that it isn’t stress that causes these problems, but rather how students cope with the stress.

“The behaviors or lack of behaviors caused by stress are what lead to health problems,” she said.

These include unhealthy exercise habits, sleep deprivation and alcohol and drug consumption. However, coping behaviors are very individualized, Rikard said.

“You couldn’t say this amount of stress affects everyone in the same way,” she said.

To cope with the pressure of final exams, Kath and Rikard have a variety of tips.

Kath suggests getting a good night’s sleep, organizing a study schedule and studying a small amount each day rather than staying up late cramming the night before an exam.

She also recommends a change of perspective.

“It’s much healthier to think of finals exams as a challenge than a hindrance,” Kath said.

Rikard encourages students to take the time to reflect on what coping and study methods have worked for them in the past.

“You want to spend your time doing strategies that match your learning style,” Rikard said. “It’s all about what works for you.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
1 Comment

One Response to “SDSU therapy dog helps students manage final exam stress”

  1. Ron Lavin on January 2nd, 2017 11:46 am

    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, about 15% of the population suffer from dog allergies, and many of these are severe enough to be life threatening. Please be considerate in bringing your pets to public places. There is a time and place for pets.

Commenting on our site is a privilege. We want our readers to add their point of view to every story but ask that they keep their comments relevant to the topic at hand. We will remove comments and possibly ban users who do the following: (1) Use vulgar or racist language, (2) Threaten harm of any sort to staff, commenters or the subject of an article, and (3) Leave spam in their comment. If you have questions about these rules, please contact our Editor in Chief at:

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.