Korri Wojack – Staff Writer
It’s no big surprise that finals are a huge source of stress for most students. With many students it can make or break their final grade, and with the average of 3-4 finals per student, that is a lot of pressure. This stress is often worsened by inadequate coping techniques and pressure from both internal and external sources. Lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, excessive amounts of caffeine, and lack of relaxation can all cause a student’s brain to not function at its best.
The GustieWELL office, located in the lower level of the Campus Center, serves as a center to connect students with helpful information and resources related to stress management, physical health, mental health, and more. GustieWELL offers options for every type of student, ranging from peer-led workshops and support, to 24/7 online cognitive behavioral courses through Learn To Live, and also professional staff appointments. During this stressful time, the GustieWELL office is well versed in stress management techniques.
First, not all stress is bad, as Director of GustieWELL Laura Herbst-Johnson reminds us. “While stress isn’t typically a comfortable feeling, it can actually serve a valuable purpose. We actually perform best under medium levels of stress, because it helps us focus and stay motivated (this is called eustress),” Herbst-Johnson said. While eustress can be very beneficial, the other hand is distress. Ongoing high stress can negatively impact cognitive function and daily tasks. “Maintaining mental, emotional and physical reserves are essential to preventing distress. The first step to stress-management is prioritizing basic self-care habits, such as moving your body (even just 5-10 minutes is beneficial), aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated are crucial to helping your body endure stress,” Herbst-Johnson said.
The PAs also chimed in, relaying their tips and tricks for stress management. “[Try] getting outside for a walk, journaling, talking with someone you trust, and taking study breaks” said junior Keely Schuck, followed by senior Alex Chou, who took more of a mental approach to managing stress. “Given how it is crunch-time, re-outlining one’s to-do-list for these last three weeks would serve as a “reset” for every student. Expressing gratitude (write 3 things you were grateful for before going to bed), and watching your internal dialogue/manifesting positive energy will definitely help in the long run,” Chou said.
Here on campus there are many places you can go to in order to receive help before finals, or any time really. The Academic Support Center is a fantastic resource, and so is the GutieWELL office, and by extension, going and visiting with a PA. There is also the Writing Center for those students that have a final paper instead of a final exam, and different departments have specific tutors to help students understand the material better.
For those with testing anxiety or other testing related issues, the Academic Support Center is a fantastic resource. In many cases they can help students get the help they need by allowing extended time for tests, pencil and paper tests vs. online tests, etc.
So, what are some tips and tricks?
Number one: Avoid procrastination!
This natural tendency seems to define the college experience with some students even boasting about their ability to survive all-nighters. We’ve all been there. In reality, however, procrastination is not cause for celebration, it can hurt your grades. This harmful practice stresses students out and almost always leads to worse scores because the material is all crammed into your short term memory, and not etched into your long term.
Number two: create a study space!
Nothing is worse than trying to study and getting distracted every five seconds. There are plenty of spaces on campus that are all built for studying. Tablespace, quality lighting, comfy chairs, and relatively no distractions from people or your phone is ideal. Still, if you do struggle with winding up back on your phone when you study, don’t worry! Try plugging it in across the room, turning it all the way off, or even setting reminders that will appear to remind you to get back to studying.
Number three: your body is your best friend!
Sleep, movement, hydration, and food are the most important things to keep your body happy, and by extension, the mind. Cramming everything into an all nighter means your body isn’t getting enough sleep, and you’ll be exhausted before your final. Instead make sure to get adequate amounts of sleep, and avoid caffeine before bed. In the morning and throughout the day, snack and drink water, it will help you stay alert and keep your brain functioning properly.
Most importantly, breathe! Remember that you got this, and even if your grade isn’t what you wanted, it’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of Gusties and Gustie resources that are here to help and support you both before, during, and after finals. Good luck Gusties!