Psychology experts provides tips for minimizing stress as finals approach

This is the time of year when Marshall University students are studying for finals, completing projects, scheduling for classes and preparing to graduate.
Professor and Chair of the psychology department Marianna Footo Linz shared advice on de-stressing during finals.
“The best way to relax is to pace yourself,” Linz said. “Be sure you know what you need to do, and plan a schedule that will allow you time to prepare for finals while still taking care of yourself. Avoid a lot of unnecessary stressors—if you need that extra credit assignment, do it, but make sure it is worth the stress it will create.”
Licensed psychologist Kelly Daniel agreed with Linz’s advice to students.
“Of course the best way to be relaxed during finals week is to do the work along the way, not just cramming it all in for finals. Cramming is very stressful,” Daniel said.
“Spend some time alone every day, away from the stress that friends may have during finals week, because stress can be contagious.”
The psychologists agree in order to fully relieve stress during hard times, eating healthy is a must.

Of course the best way to be relaxed during finals week is to do the work along the way, not just cramming it all in for finals. Cramming is very stressful.

– Psychologist Kelly Daniel

“Make sure you are eating as healthy as you can,” Linz said. “It will keep your energy up and help you avoid those energy crashes that come from either too little food or too much sugar.”
Daniel said students will most likely study better because his or her body will feel better if they eat healthy.
“I realize it’s common and easy when stressed to reach for a bag of chips,” Daniel said. “But fruits like oranges and berries and nuts can be healthy and help in relaxation, your brain can feel foggy with too much grease and carbs.”
Linz said caffeine is not bad for a little boost of energy, but too much caffeine can actually work against the body.
“A little caffeine can keep you energized, but too much can actually interfere with your concentration and make you too fidgety to study well,” Linz said.
Linz said staying active will also help relieve stress.
“Make sure you find time to be physically active,” Linz said. “Exercise stimulates the parts of your brain that are active in remembering and it helps your mood. When you’re stressed over finals, find a relaxing activity. Do yoga. Practice mindful relaxation. Do a little binge watching on Netflix, just don’t let it get out of control to where it eats your study time.”
Marshall student Luke Cooley said he always makes time for physical activity when he is stressed out.
“Even if it’s just for a half-hour, I make time to go to the gym,” Cooley said. “Being able to focus fully on something like exercise gives me a break from school, and when I’m finished working out I feel energized and ready to study…well, as ready as I’m going to be.”

Make sure you find time to be physically active. Exercise stimulates the parts of your brain that are active in remembering and it helps your mood.

-Marianna Footo Linz, professor and chair, Marshall University psychology department

Linz also gave tips on studying for finals and taking exams.
“Remind yourself how much you have prepared for your exams, and stay focused on your goals and relax when you are taking your exams,” Linz said.
Linz said she thinks a great strategy when taking an exam is to look through the exam and answer the questions you confidently know first, and then save the more difficult questions for later.
“That will help you avoid that ruminating trap where you hit a question you don’t know the answer to, and the stress over that one question spreads to the whole test,” Linz said. “Pretty soon your mind is running away with you and convincing you that you don’t really know anything, and you will soon be flunking out of college and living on the streets. Keep control of your thoughts and focus on what you know rather than what you don’t know.”
Rewarding yourself after the exam is over is another thing Daniel and Linz agreed was important.
“Reward yourself with a movie with friends after you study for the O-chem test,” Linz said.
Linz said just letting go of the exam after you take it is important.
“Once the test is over, to quote Frozen, ‘let it go,’” Linz said. “Focus on what’s next. If talking with your friends relieves your stress, do it. If certain friends stress you out by rehashing a test question after question, change the subject and focus on something light.”
Linz said it is also important to get help from instructors if they need it.
“Remember, it is our job to help you,” Linz said. “You are not being a bother, it is why we are here.”
Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].