How students manage stress and anxiety during finals

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images. A young student studies for an exam late into the night.

As finals near for College of the Desert students, many have begun to prepare for exams, and final projects. While some students begin preparing for the upcoming semester, others rush to complete the spring semester with the hopes of graduating and transferring for the fall season. 

As the spring semester comes to a close, the familiar signs of stress and anxiety surround students as finals week approaches, nevertheless students have begun to prepare for finals in a variety of ways that might aid in reducing stress and anxiety.

“I think the only thing that is getting me through finals is being able to use the extra time I have now since classes went online to study,” said Jordan Kleber, a kinesiology major.”I only have three finals, my fourth class will be more of a multiple choice quiz final which will cover everything that we’ve learned throughout the semester.”

Kleber added, “I’ll be transferring to California State University, Long Beach for a bachelor’s degree in health science, I would’ve transferred in the fall of 2020 but I fell behind in my courses due to the pandemic and work.” I don’t have it as bad as some other students, but I am still anxious.”

May 20 marks the last day of spring semester classes before finals week, beginning May 20 – May 28. However, student support programs such as the Tutoring and Academic Skills Center (TASC), are offering finals tutoring services to all students looking for extra help from Monday, May 17 – Thursday, May 27. 

All students interested in using TASC services within these next two weeks will also get the opportunity to be entered to win a $100 Target gift card. Students needing help with finals preparation the weekend before finals can work with TASC tutors at the TASC Study Jam, beginning Saturday, May 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Zephanae Thomas, a business major, said she is feeling a mix of stress and anxiety as finals approach. “If I pass all of my classes, this is my last semester,” said Thomas.

Thomas has been a student at COD for three years, having gone through multiple course changes with the hopes of finally transferring to the University of California, Irvine, with an associate’s degree.

“I’m in five classes, most of them requiring lots of comprehension, I’ve kind of struggled throughout these last couple semesters, but I did well with my mid-terms,” said Thomas.”I think I’ve created a lot of my own anxiety from overthinking things.”

Thomas added, “

One of the biggest things I’ve learned to do to help me prepare for finals has been to write down all my notes on a notepad and to use neon highlighters to highlight the most important information so it sticks out. I think being able to write out the material helps with memorizing it as well, instead of making a document on Google Docs or Microsoft”

— Zephanae Thomas, COD student

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Thomas goes on to mention that she has partnered up with classmates from a few of her classes to create finals flashcards using sites such as Quizlet to study for the upcoming exams.

“I think being able to connect with your classmates and form a study group that you can depend on can be really helpful,” Thomas said.”This is something me and my classmates did for our mid-terms and it helped.”

Thomas added, “I know I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now but since the pandemic, everything now feels like a blur.” Regardless, I’m grateful to the college and all the support I’ve received.”

Here are 5 more tips to managing stress and anxiety as finals week approaches:

1. Getting Enough Sleep

According to sleepfoundation.org, the average college student gets only 6.36 hours of sleep per night during finals week, keeping in mind that the average adult requires 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night.

Many students relying on caffeine to keep them awake can expect common sleep deprivation symptoms such as increased stress levels, a weakening of your immune system, impaired cognitive performance, and of course oversleeping, according to Stanford Medicine

While it may not seem like a big deal missing a couple of hours of sleep, a lack of sleep could have severe consequences on one’s mental and physical health.

2. Take a Study Break

The importance of setting aside alone time for yourself to destress could be extremely beneficial. According to health.cornell.edu, taking a 5-60 minute break from studying not only refreshes your brain but can increase your energy, ability to focus, and productivity. 

Being able to know when your brain needs to recharge is essential for optimal cognitive performance.

3. Asking for Help

Students don’t have to go through finals preparation alone. Every student has their own learning processes, while flashcards work for some, others might struggle to memorize the material. Students struggling to find the right kind of study technique, whether it’s for a particular class or in general can always reach out to a tutor at TASC for extra help. 

For students needing mental health support, you can contact the Student Health and Wellness Center from Monday-Friday, from 9-4 p.m. at  760-776-7211.

4. Creating an Agenda 

Creating a detailed agenda for every week as finals approaches can help students stay ahead and make studying less stressful. Logging courses from least to most difficult could also allow students the time to concentrate on the courses they struggle the most in. Whether this is in the form of a hard-copy planner, an app from a phone, or a calendar on your laptop, having the ability to look at what needs to be done may help avoid burnout.

5. The Finish Line

Whether this is your first semester or your last, taking a deep breath and remaining confident in your abilities despite all the obstacles experienced throughout your journey is important. Getting a head start on what lies in the near future could also bring you one step closer to the end of your goal. Developing a simple plan for yourself for the next couple of months might help in keeping you motivated and focused.