Avoiding stress in final weeks

Make an effort to prepare your mind and body for the semester’s end with these tips


Pahl is a senior journalism major and Multimedia Editor of The Spectator. Pahl can be reached at [email protected] or @DaniellePahl.

Story by Danielle Pahl, Multimedia Editor

As the school year comes to a close, some of us can already feel the relief of summer break. For most, I’m sure these last three weeks of the semester will be a nightmare. With the pile-up of final projects, papers and quizzes on top of final exams, stress can take quite a toll.

According to a 2009 study by the Associated Press and MTV, 85 percent of students say they experience stress daily. Of the 2,200 students surveyed, 77 percent said they felt stressed due to academic concerns.

Stress is not always avoidable, but there are ways to cope with it and overcome it. Simple changes such as your sleep schedule, diet and amount of physical activity to your routine could mean a less-hectic and anxious final few weeks.


My advice, and the advice of experts on the matter of sleep, is nothing you haven’t heard before. Although it can be difficult at times, especially as a college student, it is important for your body to have close to eight hours of sleep each night.

A lot of us have taken a psychology course and have learned about the brain’s need for a restful night. The brain needs to go through various sleep cycles to organize the day’s activities. The University Health Center at The University of Georgia said sufficient sleep not only contributes to the body’s amount of energy, but can also affect academic performance.

“The very qualities you need to maximize in order to do well on tests … are decreased when you are sleep deprived,” the study reported. “Research has shown that students who get six or fewer hours of sleep have a lower GPA than those who get eight or more.”

Getting enough rest after studying allows your brain time to comprehend and better retain information. You will also be more alert during the day, which can lead to better test performances and decision-making ability.

In the next few days, set time aside to plan out your schedule for the rest of the semester. Go through your syllabi, speak to your teachers and group members to identify due dates and meetings.

With that information, create a calendar or a list. From there, plan and set time aside for your assignments and for sleep. In this way, you are more likely to stick to your schedule and feel less stressed as you cross things off.


When making your schedule, you should also set time aside for physical activity. According to Mayo Clinic, apart from increasing your body’s energy, exercise has the ability to combat stress and boost brainpower. Sometimes I get stressed just thinking about how exhausted I will be after a run, but I always feel proud of myself for doing it.

Physical activity releases endorphins that contribute to a positive mood and help you alleviate stress from the day’s activities. Mayo Clinic also reports that “exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. (It) also can improve your sleep, which is also disrupted by stress.”

For those of you like me, start off slowly. You don’t need to be running a mile right away. Set goals you know you can accomplish, and then alter those goals as you go. Start by going on a walk through Putnam Park or attend one of the free exercise classes provided by the University. Then work your way to more rigorous activity if you desire.

Make sure to change up your routine. Repetition causes boredom and will likely lead to you abandoning your commitment. Consider asking a friend to exercise with you. That way you are more likely to push yourself and increase your tolerance and more importantly, stick to your goals. Exercise will improve both your mental and physical health. Who doesn’t want to feel and look great?


A healthy body and mind starts with a balanced diet. When you consume the right foods, they, like sleep and exercise, have the ability to boost brainpower and your mood. As you complete assignments, presentations, and especially when taking exams, you need to provide your brain with the right nutrients to perform your best. According to Forbes’ “10 Top Foods to Boost Brainpower,” foods high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are the way to go.

One of the most common antioxidant superfruits is blueberries. Forbes says research finds “a diet high in blueberries” contributes to “faster learning, sharper thinking, and improved memory retention.”

Medical Daily also said the vitamin power of blueberries can help combat a number of diseases by supporting your overall health.

“Just a handful can satisfy your daily fiber requirement. Plus, blueberries are an excellent source of manganese, which plays an important part in bone development and converting carbohydrates and fats into energy.”

Forbes also said foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, work to protect the brain by increasing the function of neurotransmitters.

And of course, don’t forget the pyramid!

Final advice

As you head into the home stretch, don’t let stress wear you down. Make a schedule and set time aside for a full and consistent night’s rest and sufficient exercise. Be conscious of the food you are eating and strive to eat foods that are beneficial to both your physical and mental health.

What you do from this point on could mean a significantly less stressful and prepared final weeks, or you turning into a sleep-deprived, emotionally-rampant monster not even your mother could love.