Students aim to fight finals stress

By Megan McNamara

With finals looming, students are searching for ways to combat stress. Many try to distract themselves with tried-and-true forms of entertainment, such as TV, movies or music.

“When I get stressed, I go and rent an entire season of ‘The Office’ or ‘Scrubs’ and watch it straight through,” said Anna Greene, sophomore in LAS.

However, there is no sure-fire way to beat the pressure. While conventional approaches may work for some, there are other ways to ease pre-finals tension. Some students prefer “slacklining,” an activity in which webbing is strung between two trees and walked on, as a way to “balance” their stress levels.

According to the Illinois Slackliners Facebook group, “Slacklining goes down on the quad on all random days of the week. If you see webbing between two trees (usually on the far north side of the quad), stop, take off your shoes and walk the line.”

Andy Migacz, sophomore in LAS, said that slacklining helps him focus and relieve stress.

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“I like to think of it as meditation,” said Clay Karz, junior in LAS. “You’ve gotta become one with the line.”

For those comfortable with a more conventional approach to meditation and stress relief, the Oasis, located on the lower level of the Union, offers a host of services.

“The relaxation room at the Oasis takes students through 20-minute audio/visual guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation,” said Jennifer Carson, stress management coordinator at McKinley’s Health Education Unit. “It’s free and runs every half-hour Monday through Friday. Hopefully students can take advantage of it between finals as a way to chill out a bit.”

Carson offered tips on how to prevent stress during finals and throughout the school year. She said that it is important to be realistic about one’s schedule.

“Don’t schedule a three-hour task in a one-hour time slot,” Carson said. “And prepare. Make note cards and set up study sessions ahead of time.”

Being better prepared allows more time for rejuvenating study breaks.

During those breaks, “be active,” said Mike Perry, licensed massage therapist at the Oasis Center. “Movement is key, whether it be walking, jogging or going to the gym. The body is dynamic and doesn’t like to stay still.”

It is important, especially during finals week, to recognize the body’s need for movement and proper alignment.

“When you think about how students are spending their time, it’s positional stress that can really affect them,” Perry said. “Students will be hunched over their books, sitting down for three, four, five hours at a time to cram for exams. Think about what position you’re usually in, slumped down with shoulders rounded, and adjust.”

Carson emphasized the importance of a good night’s sleep, saying that students should avoid pulling all-nighters. She also said that it is important for students to find a quiet place to study.

“Don’t answer the phone. Turn it off even,” Carson said. “And turn off IM.”

Carson added that during the last week of classes, McKinley is offering 400 stress-relief packs stuffed with a variety of stress relief tricks and snacks.

“They’re distributed at the Oasis and in McKinley’s lobby beginning Dec. 4 on a first-come-first-serve basis,” Carson said.

When things get tough, talk to a friend and take a break, Carson said. Going for a walk or doing something that you enjoy outside can prove equally effective.