Stress Strikes Again As Finals Week Looms

With final exams coming up, this is the most stressful time of year for most college students. The last few weeks before winter break are often jam-packed with last minute assignments, papers, reviews and exams. All of this cramming and studying causes one major issue for most students– stress.

“I’m stressed at a 10 out of 10,” said SLU senior Brenna Salen, “Finals is the last chance to make up [grades]. It’s also very stressful for seniors as it’s down to the wire on deciding what to do after next semester.”

SLU sophomore Gracie Simon said that this year’s finals week is especially hard for her.

“I have two massive finals and I’m preparing to go abroad,” said Simon, “It’s been hard to balance the two out.”

Stress can be extremely harmful for the mind and the body; unfortunately, most college students experience high levels of stress throughout the year, but they are at their highest during final exam season. Students often stay up all night studying for exams, but stress itself can cause lack of sleep, stomach and headaches and can cause students to become less focused and more forgetful, a terrible side effect during exams. The close proximity of most college students to one another can also exacerbate the problem.

“I think that it’s very overwhelming. A lot of professors also forget that students are in nine to 15 other hours of class,” said SLU senior Marissa Schiro, “I especially get stressed out when things aren’t posted on Blackboard or when I don’t know where I am in a certain class. I want to know which finals I should prioritize over others. I know that we only have a week for finals, but it would be great if professors would spread out their deadlines.”

Tony Buchanan, Ph.D., associate professor of an experimental program on cognition and neuroscience and director of SLU’s neuroscience program, researches stress.

In an article for the SLU website, he said that he discovered that even being around other people who are highly stressed can cause someone to become more stressed out and anxious, even if they were not experiencing stress before.

According to a study done by the American College Health Association in 2016, close to 35 percent of students indicated that stress had a negative affect on their academic performance. Stress can also affect students’ long-term physical and mental health, causing anxiety and depression, high blood pressure or even weight gain and diabetes.

Here at SLU, there are many students experiencing this finals week stress–but also many others who are doing their best to try to alleviate some of it. Just this past week, the Graduate Student Association and Campus Rec and Wellness held Winter Wellness Week. Tuesday and Wednesday, the groups put on several events, such as free yoga, massages and pottery painting, to give students a chance to take a break from studying, relax and enjoy themselves.

“I rely on self-care things like making a healthy meal or going for a run,” said Schiro.

Many students attest that taking study breaks are a great way to destress while preparing for finals, as long you stay on top of your study plans. Simon says that she tries to stay on top of her time management in order to keep stress levels down.

“I like to make a to-do list of things I need to get done,” said Simon. “I just take it one day at a time.”

Buchanan said that there are some effective ways to reduce stress, including getting out of the “stress bubble.” Being around your friends that are stressed can cause you to be stressed. He also suggested that changing your mindset about finals and exams can do wonders and that you will get through them.

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