How to cope with stress during finals week

Stress and anxiety are no strangers to college campuses during finals week.

According to Oklahoma Christian University Health Center counselor Christi Adkins, stress is a common part of any college experience, but stress becomes a heavier weight to bear during the week of final exams.

“Students are tested on all the hard work they have put into the semester either through finals or final projects,” Adkins said. “Students sometimes worry about whether they have studied enough to be able to do well.”

While some students dread finals week because they doubt their abilities to achieve their academic goals, other students dread finals week because of lack of planning. Procrastination can prevent students from performing at their full potential when taking final exams or completing final projects.

Adkins said proper time management should be a main priority for students during finals week. Along with time management, Adkins said students should seek out healthy ways to manage the often-unavoidable stress and anxiety that accompanies the week of finals.

“Managing stress is important in everyday life and this is especially true during finals week,” Adkins said. “Stress management can improve overall health and mood and increase productivity.”

In order to manage both time and stress during finals week, Adkins advises students to take it one day at a time by focusing on one test at a time. Getting enough sleep, practicing good self-care, eating healthy, limiting caffeine intake, taking study breaks, and exercising are all beneficial ways to help students manage stress and anxiety while studying. Also setting aside time to laugh can greatly impact a student’s academic performance.

“Make sure to take time to have fun and laugh,” Adkins said. “Laughter is a great stress reliever. Make some time to relax and have fun with friends while balancing study time.”

To help students manage stress during finals week, the Student Life office provides healthy activities to simply give students time to rest and rejuvenate in-between exams.

“Our goal is to just make it as calm as possible in an already stressful environment,” Amy Roberts, director of Freshman Experience said. “We know that when minds get stressed out people tend to sometimes do things that aren’t healthy to alleviate that stress, so we want to provide healthy ways before they get to that point.”

During the week of finals Student Life offers free activities for Oklahoma Christian students to take a break from studying. These activities include coloring and play dough stations, complimentary hot chocolate and apple cider, and the opportunity to play with dogs brought in from a local shelter that are trained specifically to help individuals cope with stress and anxiety.

Roberts said students with morning final exams are met with free donuts and hot chocolate while walking to class throughout the week.

“I think it’s just different ways to alleviate stress,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of funny because they’re all childlike things, but it’s just these little things that are able to neutralize you.”

Adkins urges students to focus on the practical solutions she suggested, as well as take full advantage of what the campus has to offer. For students who are still sweating frantically in anticipation of the dreaded finals week, Adkins said to just take a deep breath and relax.

“Find a balance in self-care and studying,” Adkins said. “You have worked hard all semester and trust the knowledge you have obtained. Set small realistic study goals for yourself and remember to reward yourself with short breaks, going out to dinner with friends, taking a walk or going for a short jog. Encourage one another. It always feels good to know that you are not alone as you prepare for finals. Try to stay in the positive rather than the negative.”

Along with Adkins, Roberts also has some advice to give students in preparation for finals week.

“Start ahead of time during dead week, make a list, have an idea of what you’re going into, write out your entire week,” Roberts said. “And most importantly, remember you only have 24 hours in a day, so do what you can each day.”

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