Finals week, or better known to students, “hell week” is approaching with the last few weeks of school ending. During this trying time, full of studying for exams or projects and wishing you could rip your hair out, it is easy for stress to catch up and overwhelm you. A small amount of stress can be beneficial but copious amounts aren’t at all. Chronic stress related to school can lead to physical illnesses or susceptibility to these illnesses, depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, lower grade performances… a whole slew of problems that no one needs in their lives. Per a national survey conducted by Georgetown University, at least 30 percent of college students say that stress has affected their academic performances on their final exams. This statistic doesn’t account for high school students, especially since high school exams have a decent impact on grades and one student’s ability to get into a college. Grades are everything nowadays and people are sacrificing taking care of themselves to keep ahead of the learning curve.
As a high school student, I experience exams stress firsthand and daily. There was once a point that I had become so wound up by my grades, that if I didn’t do well on my midterms or finals, I would have an emotional reaction with some physical symptoms of sickness. I am currently attending a school that ranks in the top 5 schools for academics across my entire state; so, the pressure to outperform those results is intense. There are occurrences where I will see a student break down over a particularly low test grade, crash and burn right before finals, or physically harm themselves through neglecting their needs so that they can keep their grades in tip-top shape. Seeing a student in tears, cracking under the pressure of school, isn’t an uncommon sight. These students have so much stress riding on them from the school reputation or their teachers or their families or their ambitions… whatever their stressors may be.
People, myself included, get so wrapped up in the nuances of academic perfection that we forget what it’s like to truly take care of ourselves. We come with unkempt hair and the same pair of sweats we’ve worn for the last 3 days. That is the definition of “hot mess”. People believe that focusing all your attention onto studying will guarantee success. However, that is a far cry from the truth.
My advice is to balance out intense periods of studying with time for you to relax or to take care of yourself; because making yourself sick over a test isn’t worth worsening your performance. For the studying aspect, I would recommend creating a detailed calendar of your schedule in the weeks before and during finals.
There you can break down and allot the necessary time to each activity. I would also recommend asking your teachers/professors about the material that will show up on the final during any available time they may have. Another suggestion would be to have detailed notes on subject material. I personally recommend the Cornell note taking style as an AVID student, but any way will work, so long as you can learn with it. This prevents last minute cramming sessions and unnecessary stress related to studying. The second part is the relaxing part. Instead of burning yourself out from work, take a needed break. Activities like listening to music, exercise, and hanging out with friends are all great ideas that will give you the necessary fresh air you need after studying.
School can be challenging. By the end of the year, everyone is burned out and ready for summer to begin. However, pushing yourself and neglecting your health during finals is the worse thing for you to do. Keep healthy and prepared to finish the final stretch of school!