The final weeks of the semester are often the most harrowing for college students. With finals looming, students are often seen pulling all-nighters, double-fisting caffeinated drinks and studying until the bitter end to raise grades or keep them where they are. Finals week certainly is one of the most stressful times of the year. Although everyone responds to stress and stressors differently, it does have a physical, emotional and psychological impact on everyone.
According to a study from Georgetown University, students preparing for finals often report feeling increasingly disorganized, difficulty sleeping, frustration or irritability, stomach problems, frequently skipping meals and difficulty making decisions, just to name a few. According to a national survey, 30 percent of college students reported that stress had affected their academic performance. It’s not uncommon for students to get less than four hours of sleep a night.
When we get stressed out, we find it hard to focus on long-term goals. Instead, we tend to lean more toward short-term rewards with pleasurable outcomes. According to an article from Campus Clarity, this is why, during finals week, it’s so hard to resist eating that pint of ice cream or to say no when a friend asks you to go out. Stress also makes us less likely to connect bad consequences to our decisions. Therefore, some students will go out the night before a final, because they feel good socializing, only to forget that they will be horribly hungover for their final the next day.So, while finals week is undoubtedly a lot of pressure, it’s important to buckle down and get through the next week. Stress also saps our willpower, so it’s especially important to get assignments done early, because we are relying on fewer cognitive resources than normal.
While everyone agrees that doing well on finals is important, counselors at Brigham Young University say that it’s important to stay balanced. “Obviously, doing well in school should be at a top priority, especially during such a stressful period such as exam times. But it’s also critical to learn to relax your mind and unwind,” said Utah Valley University behavioral science graduate Paige Clegg.
A few common tips for dealing with stress during finals week include exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, creating a game plan and incorporating study breaks. Getting encouragement, whether it be from a parent, friend or professor, can also help keep students motivated during this stressful time.
Keep pushing! You’re almost there!
Lindsay Gibbons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org