Surviving The Stress of Finals

Surviving The Stress of Finals

Photographs courtesy of bu.edu

If anything can change the overall mood and sleep schedule of a person, it is final exams. From final papers to multiple-choice tests, every college student knows the struggle of prepping for the last few grades that really matter. The stress of finals week can make this time even more difficult to manage, compounding difficulties that already exist. That being said, it is important to have some healthy mechanisms in mind to handle finals week stress, especially since they double as methods to handle stress throughout the rest of life.

Before considering any tips, it would help to understand how stress affects the body in the first place. Stress responses in the brain can be triggered by events with a large amount of importance placed on them, whether a final grade or one’s well-being. Stress can affect many relevant brain functions such as memory, mood regulation and anxiety response. Alongside this, Harvard Health Publishing details how stress can “[affect] not only memory…but also promotes inflammation, which adversely affects heart health,” according to Jill Goldstein, a Harvard Medical School professor of Psychiatry and Medicine.

These effects are even more concerning when one considers the impact finals stress can have on the body. Finals are most frequently experienced over a seven day period, with preparation being done up to a month in advance. This means that many individuals are experiencing stress over a long and continuous period of time. Memory issues can make it difficult for students to utilize the information they spent so long to retain, and when it comes to individuals with learning disabilities, this can make the task of receiving a high finals grade that much more difficult. Stress can also impact the way the brain forms thoughts, with the sense of urgency wearing down the brain’s ability to create and organize complete thoughts.

Keeping these effects in mind, here are a couple of tips to handle this stress and which can help make finals feel much less detrimental to student’s brains:

Materialize it.

By writing, speaking about or otherwise listing the specific parts of finals week that are stressful, the opportunity to handle each individual problem becomes easier to visualize and handle. An example of this is putting each stressor on a sticky note, then organizing them based on what can be tackled first.

Find Comfort.

Whether it comes to studying or breaks, it is crucial to find the most comfortable method of action to make things easier. Picking a specific location to unwind, using color-coded highlights to retain information better and even group studying are all options to approach finals week in ways that best suit the individual.

Reward Oneself.

Once the hard part of completing the task is done, do not forget to celebrate with a reward! Set rewards for each goal and make longer tasks deserving of higher rewards – such as video games for rewriting notes or a movie night for doing a practice exam.

Beyond these tips, it is valuable to remember the basic health tips such as drinking plenty of water and getting at least seven hours of rest, since high final grades are more obtainable with high-quality health. Good luck!