Students cope with stress as finals near

Kim Kotsovos, senior in LAS, studies for an exam by the doors of the Undergrad Library on Tuesday. Erica Magda

By Melissa Silverberg

Three exams, two papers, one group project – it all adds up to thousands of students counting down the hours until Thanksgiving Break when they can leave their stress behind and enjoy the holiday.

The factors that cause stress for students vary from person to person, but can include classes, exams, relationships or money, said Jennifer Carson, wellness promotion specialist and stress management coordinator for McKinley’s Health Center.

“Stress causes wear and tear on the body,” Carson said. “When you are under stress it is more difficult to maintain other personal needs like sleeping enough and eating right.”

Stress can also lead to a lack of concentration and difficulty performing important tasks, which can be very counterproductive if a student has a lot of work or studying to do, Carson added.

McKinley Health Center offers a Stress Management Program for students, which involves outreach programs, individual appointments and a collection of other services.

One way students can escape their stressors is at the Relaxation Room located in the Oasis center in the basement of the Illini Union. The room offers a 15-minute audio-visual guided relaxation presentation offered through the McKinley Health Resource Center and Oasis, said Odion Clunis, sophomore in AHS and a student worker at the resource center.

During the relaxation presentation a voice tells students to breathe, squeeze their fists and participate in other stress relieving techniques. The services at the Relaxation Room are free to students.

Clunis said attendance at the Relaxation Room goes up during test times and other stressful points in the semester and that they were even booked a few days last week.

McKinley also offers some online relaxation exercises that can be downloaded from their Web site onto an iPod or MP3 player, which includes instrumental music and muscle relaxation techniques.

Carson added that students can also make confidential and informal one-on-one appointments for an hour throughout the year.

Starting the week of Dec. 8, McKinley’s Health Resource room will also be distributing stress relief packs for finals time, Carson added.

The packs include coupons, snacks and information about how to best manage stress and time during final exams.

These packs are free to students, but are first-come-first-serve and often are gone only a few days after they appear.

“When we aren’t taking time to take care of ourselves, it will be that much harder to do well,” Carson said. “Anyone that is proactive in trying to manage personal well being on a consistent basis will benefit from that.”

Time management can be difficult for students with so many activities and responsibilities at one time.

“Time management plays a huge part in our lives with such hectic schedules,” Carson said. “That is why being able to manage our time effectively is so important.”

Between two tests, pledging a fraternity and getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving Break, Curt Toulouse is feeling the stress.

Toulous, freshman in Business, added that he does not agree with teachers waiting to throw so many tests, papers and projects into the last week before break.

“Obviously students are anticipating leaving and not as focused,” Toulouse said. “It’s dumb to wait until this week.”

Other students have voiced agreement that while there is no University rule requiring a difficult week right before vacation, coincidentally most classes have some kind of project, test or paper due.

“I don’t think (teachers) understand how stressed out we really are,” said LaShea Conner-Gaten, senior in LAS. “Being stressed out makes you more fatigued. Everything just seems that much more annoying.”

Too much to do in too little time is a common problem that also stresses out Jason Sizer, graduate student.

“I just try to schedule as best I can and let things carry on as best I can,” he said.

“But, I don’t really get stressed because I don’t take things that seriously. Life is simple, people just make it hard.”

With the days winding down until campus empties for the Thanksgiving holiday, many students are looking forward to a much-needed break.

“I would leave today if I could. I need this vacation,” said Titilope Ademokun, senior in AHS. “I’ll go home and relax and not even want to come back.”

10 Effects of Stress

…On your body

Headache

Pounding heart

Shortness of breath

Tooth grinding

Clenched Jaw

Stomach upset

Increased sweating

Sleep problems

Weight gain or loss

Skin breakouts

…On your mind

Anxiety

Restlessness

Worrying

Irritability

Mood swings

Confusion

Burnout

Resentment

Forgetfulness

Inability to concentrate