Finals week calls for stress coping techniques

Students can conquer the stress triggered by final exams using mindful methods.

By Marcos Franco, Staff Writer

As the end of the semester approaches, tensions are high for Valley College students incessantly working to cram in last minute assignments as workloads pile up.

With only a couple days left in a long fall semester, students may feel their mental engines running on empty. While managing school, work and social relationships is laborious enough on its own, the added stress of preparing for final exams and the holidays could become overwhelming. Although everyone has their own methods and routines that work for them, there are key steps students can take steps to de-escalate frantic emotions and set themselves up for success.

“What helped me as a former Valley College student was constant communication with my instructors,” said Jack Condon, business professor at Valley. “If I was unsure about any material, I always reached out to my instructors for answers. As an instructor, I understand that students can be reluctant to do so, especially during remote learning, which is why it is important now more than ever.”

Being prepared starts with transparency. Knowing what is expected and what to study for gives students an upper hand on the final. This semester, the privilege of being face-to-face with instructors is not accessible but this should not prevent thorough communication. Establishing a rapport with instructors is a necessary tool to avoid stress and gain a better understanding of the overall course objective.

Study breaks are a crucial part of retaining information. It can be easy to get caught in a thoughtless trance when staring at a computer screen or textbook for hours. In theory, an uninterrupted study session sounds ideal but can actually interfere with absorbing the material. A short intermission between chapters or every couple hours could prevent mental burnout.

Although the usual trusty cup of coffee is enticing, caffeine should be used responsibly. As with any pleasant thing, moderation is key. Too much coffee can raise blood pressure and stir up anxiety ultimately leading to stress.

If students are in need of mental clarity, some light exercises may be a better alternative to jittering amounts of caffeine. Being physically active can help clear up lingering brain fog that makes it difficult to think clearly. Exercise fires off chemicals in the brain that stimulates the growth of blood vessels and brain cells.

Regular aerobic exercise may increase the size of the hippocampus — the part of the brain that is responsible for learning and verbal memory,” said Dr. Vernon Williams, according to his personal health blog. “Exercise can change the brain for the better, and by doing so, it can help to protect thinking skills and memory in anybody.”

If students are in need of tutoring or a virtual study partner, The Academic Resource Center offers review workshops for general education classes as well as writing courses. In order to access the online tutoring, students must login to Canvas and select the class they need tutoring for. From there, they will find the online tutoring link which will lead them through the registration process.

Although it can be easy to stress over upcoming finals, there are steps students can take to minimize or even avoid it all together. Gaining confidence with the study material, taking regular breaks and building a routine schedule can save students the stress brought on by finals.