There are things you can do to manage your stress this finals week. Also, there are long-term changes you can make that will have an impact on the future. Creating a lifestyle that helps you function at your best is really the long-range goal of stress management. Unfortunately, a totally stress-free finals week isn’t possible. You need stress to power your mind and body and keep you motivated. The trick is managing it before it manages you!

The basis of stress management is formed by three everyday healthy habits: eating right, getting enough sleep, and being physically active. Sleep is usually the first thing we deprive ourselves of when we’re busy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying up late or pulling all-nighters to study, but it’s not very helpful. We only function at 50-70 percent efficiency without adequate sleep (seven hours nightly for most people), so we are more likely to waste time reading and re-reading text or making writing mistakes. A balanced diet consisting of a variety of fresh foods improves your ability to think clearly, concentrate, and feel energetic and strong when you need it most, such as when studying or taking tests. Fitness strengthens our bodies and makes us more resilient. If we are physically fit, stress levels stay down and we handle them better when they do rise

Here are some other stress tips for a manageable finals week:

Set priorities based on both importance and urgency. Time and energy are limited resources. If we spend all our time putting out fires by working only on what’s due next, we may not have the energy to do our best work on the most important things. You have to get things done when they’re due, but think about your energy like your bank account – how can you stretch and budget so you have enough left for the most important bills?

Learn to say “no.” Over committing leads to higher stress. Not sure if you should say “yes” to a favor or request? Try this test created by author Marjorie Shaevitz: Ask yourself two questions and give your answer in terms of a rating of “1” (not at all) to “10” (very much) for each.

1. How much do I want to do this?

2. Given all my other current responsibilities, how important is it that I say “yes” to this? Add the two scores together. Anything with a score of 13 or below gets a “no” response, while a score above 13 gets a “yes.”

Celebrate mediocrity. Maybe not quite “celebrate,” but perfectionism is a huge time-waster. Check out your expectations of yourself during finals week – are you expecting perfection on everything? Do you spend longer than necessary getting tasks, papers, and presentations “just right”? Think about adjusting to a more achievable, but still acceptable, level of performance.

Make time for yourself. Find a relaxation technique or exercise routine that you truly enjoy and benefit from and schedule time for it, especially during finals week. This step is crucial for blowing off steam before you fall apart!

Good luck on finals!

Source: www.iowa.edu (Sara Hansen, Health Educator)

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