Don't Freak Over Finals Week

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The Spectrum

On one hand, the holidays are near. On the other, so are finals.

Soon enough, everyone will be able to go home and enjoy time with loved ones. Unfortunately, before that can take place, almost all students are forced to suffer through finals.

If any college student were asked for a word that is synonymous with finals week, the word stress would often come up, among a slew of profanities.

This is the time of the year when students find themselves the most overworked, especially if they haven't been keeping up with their work since the start of the semester.

"I definitely haven't been doing as well as I know I could," said Shanney Lacey, a junior industrial engineering major. "It is pretty easy to slack off in the beginning of the semester and end up falling behind."

For students like Lacey, one option is to pull several all nighters in the library and hope to actually wake up in time for the test in the morning.

However, according to Sherri Darrow, the director of Wellness Education Services, there is no reason for students to pull their hair out from the roots over finals.

"There are several ways to reduce stress during this time of high anxiety," Darrow said.

One of the best ways to limit stress is to reduce caffeine intake during finals week. Believe it or not, though caffeine limits sleep, it is also a stimulant that can cause stress and send students crashing within minutes of consumption.

"I'm guilty of using a five-hour energy or two to get through my work," said Tavia Garvey, a sophomore pharmacy major. "But, after a few hours, I'm usually extremely tired."

Another simple way for students to reduce stress during finals week is to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Limiting rest during a time of high anxiety can weaken the immune system and increase the chances of getting sick, thereby causing more stress.

Anyone who has ever tried taking a test while sick knows that trying to focus while being congested and having a headache and runny nose is nearly impossible.

Another helpful tip for students is to take five to ten minute breaks between hour-long study sessions to have something to eat.

"Take breaks for snacks rather than eating continuously. While studying or at a computer screen, we tend to lose track of how much we are eating. When we just sort of multitask … we lose touch with how hungry we are or if we're already full," said Janice Cochran, coordinator of nutrition and physical activity for Wellness Education Services.

Cochran doesn't condemn eating a snack periodically, but she encourages students to bring their own food to campus and be sure to still eat full meals when studying throughout the day. It will save time from standing in lines, and students won't have to stress about the prices.

"Yes, you can have some snacks, but don't skip meals and then rely on vending machines because then you're going to overtax your system. You're going to get a lot of calories but no nutrients to process them or to support your immune system," Cochran said.

Often, students believe that cramming for hours and hours is the most efficient and useful way to study, but it is actually very detrimental to student health.

Although working out may seem like the last thing students would want to do during finals week, it can actually be a very useful tool to use to stay energized.

"The other huge advantage of breaks is doing something physical. We tend to rely on caffeine… But, when you take a physical break and you go for a fast walk or do a couple flights of stairs, it totally revs up your body. It gets oxygen to your brain; [it gets] your blood moving again. Physical breaks are a super advantage when studying," Cochran said.

Going for a quick run or lifting weights when feeling stressed can help reduce stress levels and provide some extra energy.

However, it is understandable that the gym isn't for everybody. Luckily, UB offers various yoga classes and wellness workshops that focus specifically on stress reduction.

Darrow also reminds students that there are always free and helpful resources on campus for students to partake in. Wellness Education Services always offers free massages by appointment.

Although finals week can often leave students feeling defeated and overwhelmed, it is important to remember that it never the end of the world.

"Take a few deep breaths, relax, and then get back to it," Darrow said. "It doesn't have to be as painful as you believe it to be."

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com