Stressing Finals

Dec 142003
Authors: Chris Kampfe


‘Tis the season of giving or the season to be thankful. For

others it’s the season to be stressed out.

Between finals and end of semester assignments, it is not

uncommon for some college students to experience elevated levels of

stress during these times.

Other than being a mental hindrance, stress can have adverse

physical affects on the body as well.

Ernie Chavez, chair of the psychology department, said stress

creates a “fight or flight” condition in the body, a condition in

which the body senses danger and is rushed with adrenaline to

either ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ from the danger.

But stress is a mental perception of danger that does not exist

on a physical level. Stress creates an imbalance in a body’s

chemistry because of the prolonged time the body is pumping

adrenaline, among other neurochemicals through your blood.

The result of this is a body that is run down with a weakened

immune system. This is why some people get sick right after


Being that “stress season” coincides with the flu season, it

would seem like a particularly bad time to deteriorate one’s immune


Though students can’t control their finals, they can control

their stress.

During times of stress students may experience increased acne,

headaches and high levels of irritability.

Everyone has his/her own methods of studying for finals and

coping with stress, but some people have a hard time telling the

difference between real solutions and myths.

“I usually just try and exercise and remind myself not to

overreact,” said Megan Chapman, freshman open option major. “If I

can not save all my studying so I have to cram at the end, that

helps too.”

Chavez also said students should maintain as many aspects of

their normal routines as possible, including things like diet and


“Keep with your routine. If you exercise on a daily basis before

finals, exercise daily during finals,” Chavez said. “If you don’t

exercise and you decide to run a couple miles because you think

you’re getting stressed with finals, you’re just putting more

stress on your system.”

He said it is important for students to remind themselves that

this test really is not different than any other tests they’ve

taken before.

Jerry Deffenbacher, a psychology professor at CSU whose research

focuses on stress, offers some more immediate solutions to


“You need to ask yourself ‘is my thinking making me more

stressful?’ It will be helpful to sit back and say things to

yourself like ‘I would like an A, but I don’t need one.'”

Deffenbacher also said taking breaks in studying by listening to

music, going for a walk or another relaxing activity will help

break up the tension of studying.

Deffenbacher said it is important to prioritize stresses and

address those things that need to be addressed first.

“For example, if you and your roommate are having issues

resolving the phone bill you’ll need to decide which stressor is

more important,” Deffenbacher said. “If your phone bill argument

can wait until after finals, then you should push it back until

after then.”

Charles Davidshofer, director of the University Counseling

Center, works with stressed students on a regularly. Davidshofer

said stress and depression are the two most common ailments

afflicting students who seek help at the center, especially around


“If people don’t get things done at a timely fashion in this

season, they tend to feel frenzied,” Davidshofer said. “This time

of year seems to present a lot of financial problems for


Davidshofer said students can keep stress down these times of

year by establishing a more rigorous study schedule earlier in the

year. But although studying is a key component to not stressing out

during finals, he said setting aside time for recreation should be

built into one’s schedule.

The University Counseling Center offers a stress management

program on campus and can be reached at 491-6053 for an

appointment, but walk-ins are accepted.

Another source of relaxation might be found at Campus Recreation

with a massage. If interested in setting up an appointment call


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