Papers. Exams. Projects.
It’s 12:45 a.m. in the middle of finals week. You are running off of Red Bull and Doritos, attempting to simultaneously study for a final exam while writing a 10 page paper. Next thing you know, you can barely stay awake, everything becomes blurry and you can’t concentrate any more. Does this scenario sound familiar?
It’s that time of year again when sleepless nights are filled with last minute cramming and coffee becomes a constant source of energy. Finals week is often the most stressful time of the semester, making students feel overwhelmed and exhausted, burning students out and prohibiting them from doing their best.
“I feel like there is too much to do and it stresses me out. Finals week just stresses me out,” said Paul Wimberly, a sophomore at Southeastern Louisiana University.
“Finals week is a rush. It’s stressful, but I work well when I’m stressed,” said senior Yolanda Keith. Although many students feel as though they work best under the pressure of stress, the effects of this pressure often prohibit them from performing to their full potential.
Stress is especially prevalent near the end of the semester and during finals week. Students often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of due dates and finals, causing them to work their bodies and minds over time.
According to Ms. June Taylor, director of Student Support Services at Southeastern Louisiana University, the top three reasons students join this program are stress, anxiety and depression. Taylor also said that “academics are one of the most typical stressors as a college student, especially during midterms, finals week, and because of procrastination.”
As a result, students fail to take care of their minds and bodies, depriving them of proper rest and nutrition, ultimately causing them to lose ability to perform at their highest potential.
“I’m so stressed,” said Brittani Parker, a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University, about her school workload. “School is so overwhelming.”
Similar sentiments are commonly heard across campus during finals week, with students lamenting their stress and frustration with school. “Honestly, with school, I’m always stressed,” said junior Angellic Williams.
The word stress is common and well-known to students who experience it on varying levels day-today, but what exactly is stress?
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is the response, be it physical, mental or emotional, to a demand or requirement. The Institute notes that attempting to meet a demand causes us stress by overwhelming our bodies and minds with a mixture of worry, tension and adrenaline, causing the body to work overtime at an increased pace.
“Stress is a normal part of life that we all have a greater or lesser degree of at various times,” said Taylor. “We can’t avoid it. It’s all about learning how to cope with it, manage it and reduce it when possible”.
The initial onset of stress is a positive reinforcement, providing an instant adrenaline rush or mental alertness, giving us a stronger drive to meet the challenge.
Once this challenge is met, our bodies often relax and carry-on. If this stress prolongs and interferes with our day-to-day lives, the stress begins taking a negative toll on the body and mind. Negative stress can take a toll causing exhaustion, physical illness, increasing anxiety and an interference with productivity.
Students often find themselves falling ill during finals week, making it that much harder to make it through. That pesky cough or frustrating fever that occurs is likely a result of the constant pressures of school related stress. Stressing out over exams and papers causes students to neglect their bodies and mind, depriving them of proper rest and nutrition needed to stay healthy.
The body’s reaction to these stresses is their way of telling us to slow down, calm down, and relax. Taylor said that she encourages students to stay aware of their physical health and use the Pennington Student Center when necessary.
Students struggle to deal with their stress appropriately, furthering their stress, making it difficult to concentrate and excel in school. Students tend to take drastic measures, depriving themselves of proper sleep and nutrition and forgetting to take time to refresh their minds and nurture their mental health. Instead, students find themselves doing just the opposite, thinking that they will be more productive, when they are only making finals harder on themselves.
“It definitely makes me really tired,” Williams said of her school stress, “I just feel out of it and end up drinking a bunch of caffeine and stuff, which keeps me up, and I get even more tired.”
Avoiding stress is the most effective way to ace your finals and get an A. Without stress you are able to work more clearly and more productively.
So, before you let stress take over, take a step back and review these anti-stress activities to make sure you do your best this finals week.
Talk to your professors.
While professors often seem scary and intimidating, they are more than happy to help students and guide them through finals stress. Most students don’t realize it, but professors are always open and willing to help them out. Talking to professors can help relieve stress and be beneficial in understanding how to be most productive and efficient.
Some tips on staying stress-free during finals week:
1. Eating a healthy balanced diet.
2. Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night.
4. Identify and express your feelings.
5. Reduce alcohol use.
6. Develop a good social support system.