From restful stress to stressful rest

Ainsley Freeman, Staff Writer

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The final week of the school year is marked by panicked students frantically cramming for their next final. Stress is at a high as everyone prepares for exam week. But, this does not have to be everyone’s reality.

There are a few ways for people to de-stress and relax before their test. These options can be enjoyable, too, because de-stressing can include relaxing and listening to your favorite music, or even just doing a hobby.

LASA wellness counselor Carole McPherson said that de-stressing can simply be managing time well.

“I think the very first thing to help people around exam times is, first of all, the pace itself,” McPherson said. “Anyone who waits until the night before to study for a final exam, that’s going to stress you out… So, as soon as you know when the finals are, the best thing to do is plan out your study time.”

According to McPherson, having good time management skills is more than just having a planner. The plan has to be stuck to and used daily for it to actually work. But, luckily for people without good time management skills, there are other options.

“Anything that involves something you like to do,” McPherson said. “Music, or taking a bath, or take a walk or play with an animal. Those are all good de-stressers.”

Simple things like chewing gum can help ease stress, a National Institutes of Health study showed. Chewing gum can improve concentration on visual memory tasks, stay focused longer and improve the impact of studying. Junior Drue Gillentine found that chewing gum has helped her de-stress, but she prefers to take time away from her work.

“A lot of the time, I’ll find that I’m really stressed and I’ll go do something, like soccer practice… or do something to get my mind off it for 10 minutes or something, it helps me come back more focused and less worried about it,” Gillentine said. “It’s just not getting in my head about it. I have a habit of freaking out and then getting upset about freaking out and it makes everything worse. So, sometimes I just have to come out and tell myself that it’s just one test, one quiz.”

Taking time to calm the mind is extremely helpful, and even a fifteen-minute meditation session can help improve someone’s mental state. Meditation can help control stress and decrease anxiety, as well as making it easier to relax, according to Sophomore Estelle Powell, who uses meditation to help calm herself before tests.

“I think it is really important to take some time at least once a day to meditate, even if it is on the bus or during lunch,” Powell said. “Meditating, or at least trying to clear your mind, is one of the best tactics to get through heavy stress and work.”

Whatever the best way for de-stressing is for someone, whatever they have found works best for them, they should certainly employ that method once finals week comes around., according to Gillentine. But, she said the thing to remember is that someone should not get in their own head about it.

“I just have to take it piece by piece,” Gillentine said. “And then I try not to overthink anything.”