Managing Stress During Finals Week
By Amanda Lehnerd
Final exams are coming, and the stress and anxiety they bring can affect the way students perform.
Many students at Youngstown State University, like education major Alyssa Carosella, feel students need to have the right mindset to start studying. Students can’t force themselves to study, as it ends in not being focused or not being able to retain information.
“A good way for students to motivate themselves to study is to have positive thinking,” Carosella said. “Instead of thinking you can’t pass the exam, or you waited too long to study, you should think about how studying is going to benefit you and how much more information you will learn if you do study.”
Having the right mindset when studying is a building block in the process of preparing for finals. Good diet and exercise are ways to relieve stress and keep energy in your body, as well as improve cognitive function.
Brandon Barker, a dietetics student, says students need to refrain from eating junk food, such as candy and sodas. The high sugars in these foods will give students a temporary rush of energy, which will then result in fatigue and loss of concentration once your body burns off the sugar. Healthy alternatives to junk foods can be nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
“Students should eat breakfast when preparing for finals. Starting your morning with breakfast will allow your body to have better cognitive function throughout the day so that you can retain more information when studying,” Barker said. “Students should also make sure to eat a full breakfast on the day of their exams. This is going to help them focus on their tests and make them more alert.”
Preparing for exams doesn’t stop with eating healthy; being healthy is an important factor in being able to retain information.
“Students should do at least 30-minutes of exercise daily, preferably something cardio-based,” Barker said. “This is going relieve stress in your body and make you think clearly.”
According to Barker, working out helps your brain by releasing chemicals that improve memory, problem solving and decision making.
Preparing for finals doesn’t stop with healthy diet and exercise. Studying is the most important factor of all. Without studying, students hurt their chances of being prepared for their exam, says Lindsay Heldreth, a Center for Student Progress peer mentor.
Students should remember not to compare themselves with others students when preparing for exams. Each person learns differently and has different methods to studying.
“There are three types of learners: kinesthetic, auditory and visual. Each learns differently than the other,” Heldreth said. “Students may classify themselves as an auditory learner, and so might their friend — this doesn’t mean that both students use the same methods for studying. They retain information generally in the same way, but their study methods may differ.”
Kinesthetic learners are hands-on type of learners, auditory learners retain information by listening to lectures and visual learners learn best from reading or looking at pictures.
Students studying for exams should take steps that are going to help them retain information. Getting colorful with notes and information from lectures may help trigger memories when taking an exam; picking a different color for each category of your notes will help with memorization.
“Students need to remember to not cram the night before an exam. It will eliminate stress and anxiety. When a student crams, they tend to be forgetful and have a hard time retaining information,” Heldreth said. “Students will benefit more from studying all week and getting a good night sleep the night before an exam.”