Tips on how to cope with the stress of finals week
Finals are approaching as students have returned from their Thanksgiving Break. As deadlines approach, the amount of schoolwork starts to pile up. This leads to student stress during this time of year. The Student Activities office is handing out Stress Kits in order to help students through this difficult end of the semester.
Starting on December 5, the NDSU library is open 24/7 for students to use, anticipating the amount of work that students will need to complete. This amount of workload causes students to become overwhelmed and stressed, putting them into bad habits and routines.
Angela Reinke, the NDSU students case manager and member of the NDSU Care Team, explained what stress looks like and how to best cope with stress as a student. “Students have a lot going on in general and college can be stressful when they are trying to work,” she said, “finals add additional stress.”
The Campus Activities office is also working to relieve stress. On December 5 they will be distributing Stress Kits to help students worried about finals. Students can put together their stress kits with products such as tea, stress balls, fidget toys and hot chocolate.
Student Activities also hosted a DIY Zen Garden event on Wednesday where students could created their own garden, which helps relieve stress.
“Stress affects all of us,” Reinke said. She explained that when people become stressed it leads to loss of focus, appetite and sleep. In some cases, stress can also cause hives, mood swings and headaches. People can also develop thinking errors, or cognitive distortions. This affects how people think as they will start to assume the worst in situations or blame others for not accomplishing a task.
Although these are common effects of stress, each person is different. “I really prefer to think of it at an individual level, everyone copes differently,” said Reinke. Dealing with stress is about developing healthy coping skills so that the stress doesn’t turn into these physical or mental health concerns.
The first thing that students should observe is how they are using their time, and how to best manage their time. Reinke suggests scheduling time to work on schoolwork, but also scheduling personal time and habits, such as sleeping and eating.
This can help students use their time wisely throughout the day. She explained how these should be realistic accomplishments and time schedules that would look different to each person. “I don’t want a student to set themselves on a schedule that they are never going to accomplish,” said Reinke.
Unplugging from social media is also a large part in using time management. “Social media is really a time drainer,” said Reinke, “we get caught up in what’s going on in other people’s lives and we really lose track of the time.” Reinke suggests scheduling set times for social media use to ensure that a student’s time is not wasted while scrolling through social media.
Some things to make sure you are doing if you are stressed is to sleep well, by getting enough sleep, people can reduce their stress levels. Exercise is another healthy way to cope with stress. This could include running or going for walks, but it can also mean stretching or practicing breathing exercises. Reinke suggested square breathing exercises that can help relieve stress.
Other mindfulness exercises such as STOP or 54321 are ways that students can refocus and take a moment to relax. “A lot of times we are in our head because we have so much chatter going on,” said Reinke. These are ways for students to take a moment to reset.
Talking to someone is a good way to deal with stress as well. “There’s a lot of different places that can help students with stress or managing mental health issues,” said Reinke. The Counseling Center, Student Health Services and Sanford are all areas that can help a student who is dealing with stress.
Reinke is a part of the NDSU Care Team which towards the safety and health of the campus. According to NDSU, “when a student’s behavior goes beyond normal classroom disturbances and/or the student appears to be in distress or crisis, you can contact the Care Team for assistance.”
For more information about the NDSU Care Team click here.