Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Preview of Final Paper

Kate Murphy
Multi-Week Writing Assignment #4 – Final Paper

            It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For some college students, it’s the most stressful.
            Finals week is infamous for long study sessions in the library, lots of caffeine and an extreme lack of sleep. The exams are a huge source of stress, with large portions of final grades resting on one last test. After a semester’s worth of homework, projects and speeches, it’s easy to become unmotivated in the last stretch.
            However, there are ways to keep stress levels to a minimum and to stay motivated. While the path leading up to finals may seem dark and never-ending, students should remember that the tests will be over soon. Semester break is soon upon college students, which means it tart preparing for finals now.  but it'n how to manage stress, stay motivated and survive the dreaded finals week. e finals mayis important to start preparing for finals now.
To help out the frazzled college student, here are the top five ways on how to manage stress, stay motivated and survive the dreaded finals week:

1. Budget your time and don’t procrastinate.
            Making a to-do list and writing down a schedule can help the student put things into perspective. Putting everything off until the last minute will only create more stress. The sooner the student starts studying, the more they will be able to review.
            “Finals are inevitable. From the first day of class, start to prepare for finals,” Christine Sandal, Registered Nurse at The College of St. Scholastica said. “Study in small chunks rather than cramming it all at once at the end.”
            By breaking down the studying time, the student will be able to focus more clearly and be able to tackle the project at hand.
            “I schedule my weeks out on Sunday night so I know what to expect each day,” Carrie Schmidt, junior at CSS said. “It helps me stay on track and I know when I have free time to add fun things in that can help relieve stress. In my personal experience and my friends experiences, by the time finals come around, we are so drained and unfocused that we don’t spend as much time on finals as we would a normal test. There is so little time to get everything done for all the tests that are in the same week.”
            Start your planning earlier, so that procrastination doesn’t bite you in the end.
            “The best way I manage stress for finals is to study ahead of time,” Maggie Quinn, sophomore at CSS said. “I write lists of everything coming up, and just keep track of it, then studying falls into place much easier.”
2. Study in chunks and take breaks.
            Your attention span isn’t built to stay mega-focused for hours and hours. Give your brain a break every once in a while.
            “Every half an hour or so, I will check Facebook, grab a snack, text friends or walk around – anything to get my mind off what I'm doing,” Quinn said.
            Finals are all about endurance. But taking frequent breaks will make it less likely that you’ll burn out, and help you stay focused and motivated to get through it.
“It’s extremely important to take breaks because if you focus on one thing for too long it can overwhelm you or at least become boring and uninteresting,” Connor Stevens, sophomore at CSS said. “When things become uninteresting we tend not focus or retain as much knowledge.”
Working out can also be a great stress reliever and a way to get away from the burden of studying.
“I like to exercise before or after a long study session so I don't have any pent up energy,” Quinn said.
            Whatever your break may be, it’s important to not study for long periods of time. Set goals; for every hour you study, take a 15 minute break.

3. Get some sleep.
            A lot of students may try to go for days without sleep during finals. Depriving yourself is counterintuitive to studying. You’ll be able to better remember what you’re studying if you’re well rested.
            “If students don't get enough sleep, they become more worn down,” Julie Kim, a licensed professional clinical counselor at St. Scholastica said. “Exhaustion begins to take its toll and it affects their physical and mental health.”
            Even students feel that finals are restricting their ability to sleep.
              “I would say that most college students are lacking the adequate amount of sleep needed throughout the year, especially during finals,” Schmidt said.
            Sleep is vital during finals week. By getting the recommended eight hours of dreaming a night, you’ll be able to give those exams everything you’ve got. Instead of the nightmare of trying to stay awake with gallons of caffeine, try going to bed a little earlier.

4. Relax. It’s not the end of the world.
            Whether it’s doing yoga or just taking a hot shower, plan time to relax and regroup. Take some time to think about something else besides the stress of finals.
            “Give your mind a break and do something fun with friends,” Schmidt said. “It will be unproductive studying if you don’t relax a bit.”
            Keep things in perspective. You’ve been working hard all semester long, and all your work is going to reflect in your finals. Finals are only a part of your grade and they won’t make or break you. So take a deep breath and relax.  
“I think the best way to manage stress is to manage stressful thinking,” Kim said. “Stress can be driven by anxious thoughts and chronic worry. For example, ‘I hope I don't fail. I have to get a certain grade.’ Using affirming, true and factual statements are ways to counteract anxious thoughts and prevent catastrophic thinking.  For example, ‘It’s just a test. I will do the best I can. It's not the end of the world.’ Also, talking about how stressed you feel with a supportive person is essential. Other people can help to get us out of our head.”

5. Reward yourself. You deserve it.
            Plan to do something fun with friends, pick out a fun book to read or maybe buy a new outfit. You’ve certainly earned it.
            Rewards after studying, as well as at the end of finals week, will boost the student’s morale.
             “Personally I set goals and rewards,” Stevens said. “For example, if I finish two pages of my paper, I get to play Xbox for a little bit.”
            Finals week is an overwhelming time which takes a toll on the young adult’s health and mind. The plus side of finals is when your last exam is over, the joy of the holiday season can begin. Semester break is a time for the students to become kids again, by hanging out with their friends, engaging themselves in their hobbies, and spending more time on themselves.

            Finals are creeping onto college campuses everywhere. That’s a scary thought for many students because of the increased amount of stress, decreased hours of sleep, and the overwhelming thought of the work that’s left to be done.
            It’s easy to become unmotivated with the abundant tasks at hand, but if you prepare yourself and take these pointers, finals week might not be that daunting.  
“It is one test, for one class, for one semester, for one year of school,” Schmidt said. “Not worth stressing over too much. Grades won’t have a huge impact on your life in a few years.”

*Photo by Kate Murphy


        Are you stressed? Did you just eat that entire bag of Doritos or handful of Skittles in one sitting?
            You may be stress eating.
             Elizabeth Scott wrote an article titled Stress and Emotional Eating: What Causes Emotional Eating?, which informs readers on the effects of emotional eating.
            “Stress can bring on increased levels of cortisol, known as ‘the stress hormone,’” Scott wrote in her October 2012 article. “Cortisol has a beneficial function in the body, but excessive levels of cortisol brought on by chronic stress can cause a slew of problems in the body. Among other things, high levels of cortisol can create cravings for salty and sweet foods. In previous centuries, this enabled people to bulk up on foods that would sustain them during times when food is scarce; however, in modern times and industrialized nations, when food is rarely scarce, this previously adaptive mechanism causes excess weight gain.”
            Have you ever noticed your increased craving for a sugary chocolate chip cookie or the salty goodness of pretzels? It’s not all in your head. You really do crave rich foods with stress is evident in your life.
            “Sometimes students either don't eat enough, they eat too much, or they eat high-fat, high-carb foods,” Julie Kim, a licensed professional clinical counselor at St. Scholastica said. “As a result, exercise usually goes by the wayside.”
            It’s important to keep your body’s health in mind during times of stress, especially during finals week. Feed your body with healthy options, such as salads and fresh fruit.
            Why not head over to the Burns Wellness Commons on St. Scholastica’s campus, and burn your stress away? Not only is it a good way to take a study break, but it will also keep your body in balance.
            “The best way to manage stress is balance,” Christine Sandal, Registered Nurse at CSS said. “This means studying, eating well, laughing, and getting in exercise.”
            When you’re feeling the burden of stress on your shoulders, don’t gravitate toward the high-calorie soft drink or carb-loaded Ramen noodles. Your body will thank you in the end. 

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