After several months of classes, the inevitable stressor of chaotic finals week bears down on CSU students — and the trend is worsening, according to university officials.
Jenifer Thomas, coodinator of Stress Management Services for the University Counseling Center, said stress among CSU students has risen in the past two years.
“Stress is a major issue for CSU students,” said Deb Morris, director of Health Promotions for the Hartshorn Health Service. “In the National College Health Assessment data we collect, students report that stress is the main reason for academic impact.”
Student health declines when stress is high, Morris said.
“The health center does see an increase in student visits for illness around mid-term and finals weeks,” Morris said. “Stress does affect the immune system, so people are more prone to colds, flu or other upper respiratory infections.”
And stress comes from several different factors.
“Test anxiety can stem from poor performance; poor study and note taking skills and previous exam performance, and anxiety; physiological arousal; blanking on questions and forgetting learned material,” Thomas said.
She said there is a variety of exercises students can do before test time to improve performance.
“A simple relaxation technique, such as breathing exercises, can be used in exam situations (and) can really help with the anxiety,” she said.
But Morris said general responsibility during the rest of the year is key to reducing stress during finals week.
“To manage stress, students ought to manage their time all semester and practice healthy habits all semester,” Morris said.
Although stress can be controlled through healthy outlets, some use harmful and unhealthy ways of dealing with stress.
Morris said outlets like alcohol or mind-altering drugs, increased tobacco use, increased caffeine use and not eating or exercising regularly should be avoided.
“Healthy ways to handle stress may include eating well-balanced meals, staying active physically, sleeping regular hours, practicing relaxation skills, managing time so the work does not all pile up or doing something enjoyable with friends for a break,” Morris said.
“Finals always seem to make me a little tense and worried because they have such an impact on my final grade,” freshman history major Matt Litchman said.
Some of the ways Litchman deals with stress are shown on Morris’ list, but he sometimes slips.
“I try to do things that take my mind off of the things that are making me uneasy. I’ll go to the gym for an hour or so, sit down and play the guitar or piano,” Litchman said. “Honestly, a slice of pizza always helps me out.”
Litchman’s mantra that “the sun will always be shinning tomorrow” helps him through the finals chaos, he said.
The Wellness Zone in the Lory Student Center will hold “stress busting” sessions through Friday for students struggling toward finals week.
The University Counseling Center is located in Clark Building room C36. More information on how to deal with stress can be found at www.couneling.colostate.edu.
Staff Writer Johnny Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signs and symptoms of stress include: Physiological symptoms such as muscle tension, headache, stomach problems, insomnia, loss of appetite; behavioral symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, withdrawal from relationships; and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, anger, frustration.