Finals week is upon Lane Community College. As students gear up for exams and final projects they must not forget the most important thing — themselves.
Everyone feels stress. Some stress is positive, like the rush of adrenaline when you hear a fire alarm, or the added motivation you need to get that last minute paper done. Other types of stress, if gone unnoticed, are negative. Eventually they can affect your emotional and physical health.
Psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, is the study of the relationship between the immune, nervous and emotional connections in living things. Just as the immune system is influenced by the emotional level of the individual; stress and the body are in a relationship as well.
The Medical News Today states, “It is well-established that stress can induce illness and that, conversely, a fun-filled occasion with loved ones (or self) can soothe aches and pains. PNI has deep ramifications for the future of medical research, the treatment of diseases and our attitude toward handling stress.”
The first step to creating the least amount of stress possible during finals week is to create a study schedule. This does not need to be fancy, or take a lot of time. Ultimately it will be something for you to refer to if you feel overwhelmed.
Break tasks down into steps to reach the goal. The goals, once broken down into small steps with time estimations, will help you stay on track.
When you study, do it strategically. Forecast test questions the instructor may choose and add them to your index card notes, or make flash cards to make one of your study tools mobile. Most textbooks have practice tests and highlighted vocabulary words.
Students on the go can use Quizlet, one of the top-rated study aids offered online. Flash cards can be practiced on your computer or phone.
Don’t forget to recite what you are trying to retain paraphrased outloud. According to Art Markham, M.D., of Psychology Today, reading and studying aloud creates the “production effect.”
Simply put, with the use of several forms of cognition a person elaborates on the topic they are learning and more than one input is happening; therefore more than one neural avenue is being used to remember.
However, if stressors are felt, and the feeling of defeat is setting in, there are steps that can be taken to get you and your final exam studying back on a positive track.
Adult coloring books are all the rage, but psychologists have suggested coloring for years to their adult clients as a form of self-therapy.
Drena Fagen, an art therapist and interim instructor at New York University’s Steinhardt School says, “I don’t consider the coloring books as art therapy, I consider the coloring books therapeutic, which is not the same thing.”
Recognize your triggers and project how you will deal with them, should they come up. Thinking about them differently, with a plan, will help decrease the amount of stress your body will feel. Think positively and visualize what you want, what you will achieve.
Ignore the negative rooted words, “can’ts, won’ts and but’s.” Replace this with “will and do.” Focus on the thoughts you think, use realistic words to lift yourself up. Take a mental vacation.
In the article “Current Directions in Psychological Science,” Sabine Sonnentag of the University of Mannheim researched thousands of studies on taking mental vacations during times of extreme stress. Her findings showed that taking a physical and mental break is quintessential to longstanding top performance during stressful situations.
There are many ways to take a mental vacation. Closing your eyes and imagining the most beautiful, calming place you can may be your thing. Read a book in bed, people have gone on mindful adventures through literature for years.
Thumb through pictures of happy times helps your mind wander. One could even bake some cookies, the smell will be comforting and the cookies will help when you hit the books later.
During this age of technology there are several “calming” sites available for free use.
On Calm.com, relaxing music will play while a background of tranquility you choose is shown. The site also offers guided short meditations to aid in your study escape.
Science Daily states, “Brief moments of quiet time vastly improves productivity and concentration during mass information retention.”
Many local yoga studios and gyms offer small fee classes and workshops during the year. Physical exercise and eating healthy will create better concentration, focus and retention. When the body is happy; the mind is healthy.
Take your breaks, and have at least 15-20 minutes of fun. Break up your studying, plan ahead and don’t cram. Exhaustion will set in and nothing will be remembered.
Don’t forget your sleep! The typical person requires at a minimum five hours of uninterrupted sleep to retain information for longer than one day.
Ultimately, finals are just another form of stress. Students feel different stressors throughout the term. Plan ahead, take a deep breath and look towards the future of success. Every piece of hard work now will pay off.