Stress Before Exams, Use it Effectively

20161121_092032-2By Joaquin Mojica

Finals are approaching and stress levels are rising. Students who use stress effectively can perform well on tests whereas those who don’t may hinder their performances.

Elsa Mason, psychology professor at College of Southern Nevada, says, “An important distinction between students that benefit from stress and those who don’t is how they perceive stressors. Whereas some students may perceive upcoming exams as welcomed challenges, others may perceive them as threats to their performances or their grades. Students who interpret the stressor as threats will likely procrastinate and feel negative energy towards those exams such as anxiety leading to poorer performances.”

CSN’s finals week runs Dec. 12 to 18. Pressure is mounting as students prepare for exams.

According to The American Institute of Stress, a non-profit, some of the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms of stress include the following: headaches, difficulty concentrating, nervous habits and increased frustration. These can hinder daily activities and academic work.

Dr. Danielle Richards, psychology instructor at CSN, says, “Stress is a demand made on an organism to adapt, cope or adjust. It can affect our moods, impairs our ability to experience pleasure and harms the body. Continued stress may lead to diseases of adaptation including: allergies, hives and coronary heart disease.”

“I believe that stress is counterproductive to test-taking,” says Dr. Maria Moya, professor at CSN. “Stress however can be helpful in test preparation. Stress can be a helpful motivator. The key is to be able to control the level of stress and not let it overwhelm us.”

Moya adds, “What I see in my students is a desire to be perfect at everything. Of course, that is impossible. I am not advocating failing; however, I am highly recommending that students not succumb to the notion that they must be perfect.” This will help reduce toxic stress. There are healthy levels of stress that can help students perform.

“There are advantages to experiencing stress,” Mason says. “Our bodies’ stress responses energizes us, helps us focus and gets us ready to handle stressors in life. Stress is a natural physiological response that coordinates our bodies’ systems to meet these challenges [and when we] meet our challenges, we feel good, satisfied and accomplished.”

Abigail Guevarra, nursing student at CSN, says stress influences her to succeed in school although it impacts other parts of her life such as her free time with friends. “I am tired. I don’t get a lot of sleep due to studying.”

Eden Sagun, culinary major at CSN, says she experiences both negative and positive reactions to stress. On the one hand she loses her flow when overstressed but on the other hand she gets more focused and responsible to get projects done when she is under pressure.

Imari Madison, science major at CSN, says that stress harms her academics. “It makes me less motivated.”

Mason offers reassuring words for stressed students, “CSN students are fighters who overcome significant academic, financial and life challenges. By now, you have put forth the effort for an entire semester so set your eyes on the finish line and go for it. This is not the time to give up.”

Mason encourages student to reach out to professors, friends and family for support.

Richards says, “My suggestion is to use effective time management and study skills to be best prepared for exams. This can be coupled with time spent with friends and family for support.”

Jasmine Moreno, a CSN student studying secondary education, says she draws for stress reduction. She encourages others to put their energies towards positive things to keep from self-destructing.

For more information on making stress an effective tool watch this Ted Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend.

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