It’s always around the middle of the semester and the end of the semester when college students want to begin pulling out their hair. Yes, I’m talking about midterms and finals and all the stress they bring.
While they do bring an unnecessary amount of stress, there are ways to reduce stress to make completing the work at hand a lot easier. I will be talking about things that concern health, mental health, and actives to help lower stress.
Let’s take a look at our health. Normally during exam time, many of us are too busy to cook. We’re staying up late and all jacked up on caffeine. All these things feed into the stress. They actually make stress worse. A balanced diet, plenty of water, and limited caffeine are the best ways to reduce stress. Did you know that caffeine raises anxiety? So, if you drink it to help study, you’re going to just stress yourself out even more. This ties into sleep. It is recommended that the average adult gets at least eight hours of sleep every night. When we are stressed, it is harder to go into what we call rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the deep sleep we all need. Did you know that remembering your dreams is a sign that you didn’t enter REM sleep, and that you’ve only stayed in what is called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep; the non deep sleep all night? This means that in reality, you are getting even less sleep than you think. Just because your eyes are closed and you are snoring does not mean you are catching those zzz’s.
Not getting enough sleep and being sleep deprived are compared to being drunk. Can you imagine taking your midterm or final drunk? You wouldn’t want to do that, so get the right amount of sleep. Put down the books, and come back to it in the morning.
Our health also affects our mental health. Some ways to stay focused and keep a clear mind are to take breaks. Do something relaxing. Meditation is something that is always highly recommended. If you don’t like meditating, watch a movie or go out to eat. Do something to break away from studying for a bit. Come back to it with a clear and fresh mind. There is also a technique that involves taking five minute breaks here and there while studying. This helps keep your head clear and not overwhelm your mind with all the work. Some people like to take baths or showers. Music and art are also very therapeutic and don’t take too long to do. The key is to relax your mind and not overwork it.
I already named some activities like going out, watching TV, listening to music, and doing art. Activities can really boil down to anything you love that aren’t time consuming and that are healthy for your body and mind. You want to remain from actives that cause what is called eustress. This is considered good stress. Eustress can mean going on vacation, going to big events or to theme parks, or planning a party. All these things are super fun, but they all cause eustress. As humans we subconsciously think “Did I pack that? Do I have enough money? Do I have enough time? Will I have time to study all this when I get back? I should have brought that with me. Is my ride going to be late?" All these worries add to stress. Even if the event is fun, it is still stressful.
Keep in mind that some eustress is good for us, and that it is impossible to eliminate all stress. The goal isn’t to eliminate it. The goal is to reduce it enough so that you can focus on midterms and finals. I hope this article helps you study a little bit for your test. Don’t stress out too much. Just remember that once finals are over for the spring, it’s summer! Hope to see you all at the beach relaxing!