By David Gutierrez
During finals season, most students are focused on cramming in as much information as possible, or staying up long hours to finish essays and similar assignments. When you’re desperate to get a passing grade on that final essay, or you’re eager to get straight A’s for the semester, all you can focus on is your academic performance.
Unfortunately, spending all your time and energy on studying means you could neglect your physical, mental, and emotional health needs. While grades and knowledge are important, they aren’t more important than your personal wellbeing, so it’s vital that you prioritize your own stress management.
Let’s take a look at just some of the ways poorly managed stress could affect your life:
- Impaired cognitive function. All that studying may actually end up being counterproductive. According to research in Neuron, chronic stress can impair your cognitive abilities, including memory. That means if you stress too much about studying, you might have a harder time retaining all the information you’re cramming in!
- High blood pressure. Excessive stress can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at risk for all kinds of other circulatory maladies.
- According to Georgetown University, the stress of finals, and school in general, can accumulate and cause severe anxiety or depression, which can significantly impair your life.
- It may seem hyperbolic, but the extra burden of stress from finals could put you at higher risk of death. As In the Light Urns notes, periods of increased stress and emotion—like holidays, or finals season—can increase suicidal tendencies or exacerbate existing health problems.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to mitigate or eliminate your risk for these potential consequences—as long as you make the time for it. These are some of your best tools for maintaining your health and wellbeing during finals season:
- Start early. One of the best things you can do for yourself is starting the studying process early. For some students, it may already be too late, but don’t panic—there are other strategies to help you out. If you can start early, it immensely reduces the pressure on you, and you’ll be able to get more done without scrambling to meet deadlines.
- Study in shifts. Don’t set yourself up for cram sessions. You’ll be more productive if you study in chunks with breaks in between. Working relentlessly through the night will make you more liable to forget information, and more stressed in the long run. Take time for yourself to eat, exercise, and relax your brain, and you’ll study even more effectively.
- Control your perfectionism. It’s tempting to want straight A’s and perfect papers and to remember every fact you put in your brain. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to happen. Expecting perfection is a good way to over-stress your already stressed mind, so take a step back and allow yourself to make some mistakes. Ironically, you’ll feel less stress and end up performing better than you would otherwise.
- Work in groups. Even if you’re naturally introverted, consider joining a group to study with. You’ll find empathy with other people who are experiencing what you’re experiencing, and new study strategies and perspectives that can help you on your own journey. Plus, the social contact is good for your health.
- Compartmentalize your tasks. Instead of looking at a massive list of massive projects or worrying about all your tests at once, split everything down into smaller, more manageable action items. Make a list of all the micro-tasks you break up, and then work on eliminating them one by one. It will make everything seem less intimidating, and make you feel rewarded when you make progress.
- Seek help. As USA Today points out, most faculty, staff, and other students in college universities are sympathetic to the stress of studying. If you’re truly having a tough time with your studies, or if you don’t know what else to do, ask for help. Your professors will likely cut you a break or help you find alternative options, and your friends will be there to support you.
It may seem impossible to maintain your own health while simultaneously completing all your required coursework and getting good grades, but with the right priorities, it shouldn’t be an issue. Your grades are important, but your mind and body have to come first. Keep this in mind as you finish the semester and look forward to another round with the next cycle of classes.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.