With college finals quickly approaching, the stress is setting in for students all across campus. This pressure affects students in more ways than they realize, so it’s important to understand how to manage it.
According to the American College Health Association, “stress is the number one reported impediment to academic performance. Many of the emotional and physical symptoms that occur commonly in the college population, such as headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and the inability to cope, can be attributed to or exacerbated by stress.”
Negative physical effects of stress include immune system suppression, which can increase susceptibility to physical illness and psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Going into finals week with a clear and peaceful mind is crucial to performing at the best of your abilities. Here are some tips to alleviate some of the tension and recharge your brain to feel calm and confident.
Get more sleep
Arguably the most important thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
According to Harvard Medical School, “recent studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health and working at peak performance. After two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours. New research also highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory. Students getting adequate amounts of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than did students deprived of sleep.”
Prioritize resting your brain and body. Going to bed early, only using your bed for sleeping, staying active throughout the day, avoiding screen time before bed and sticking to a schedule can be helpful when trying to get more sleep.
Spending just 20-30 minutes outdoors can significantly reduce stress levels, and doing it consistently will have lasting results. Take your eyes off of the screens and books for a while and appreciate the outdoors.
The University of West Florida has many outdoor activities for students to enjoy year-round. Take a walk through the university’s nature trails with a friend, play your way through the 21-hole disc golf course or just relocate your study spot from your dorm to one of the many beautiful outdoor study spots across campus.
Students tend to self-isolate as they study and stress over exams, but it’s important to make time for friends and family. Spending time with others can not only offer a distraction from your worries but can also help you work through your hard times.
Call or text a loved one, whether it’s just to chat for a while or make plans to meet up. Start studying with a friend or classmates, rather than alone. Go eat dinner in the dining hall instead of your dorm. Utilize your support system, and be open to new connections.
Move your body
When students are exhausted mentally and physically from stress, they often neglect exercise first. However, the endorphins your body releases during exercise act as painkillers for the body and mind.
According to the ADAA, “scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
UWF offers many activities to take advantage of at the Health, Leisure, and Sports Facility (HLS) complex, including:
5,000 square foot lower strength and conditioning center
Four indoor basketball courts
Four racquetball courts
Multipurpose indoor turf soccer field
36-foot top-rope climbing wall and bouldering wall
5,000 square foot upper cardio floor with television screens
Fitness areas that include state of the art platforms, dumbbells, benches and squat racks
1/8 mile indoor track
Fitness assessment room
Two group fitness studios
Men’s, women’s and gender-neutral locker rooms
Lounge and study area with computers and a juice bar
While finals season can be a hard time for most students, it’s important to remember that finals are not forever. Continue working hard to prepare, but be sure to take care of yourself first.