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How to Stay on Top of Finals’ Stress

Eat well, get enough sleep, and limit the caffeine


For most students, finals time is far and away the most stressful time of the year. At the Educational Resource Center, on the fourth floor of the George Sherman Union, there are people who can help keep stress in check. The center offers workshops designed to help students deal with test anxiety, and center staff are available to meet with students on an individual basis.

“Stress is a fact of life,” says Glenn Wrigley, the director of the center. “You can’t get around it. We try to teach students that it’s healthy to manage stress and that not managing stress can be detrimental to their health.”

Wrigley offers seven tips to help students get a grip on stress and perform better on exams:

1. Don’t force yourself to study beyond your limits of concentration. If you find that you’re able to concentrate for only 10 to 20 minutes, study for that amount of time, then take a short break. Research shows that studying in regular bursts helps you retain more information.
2. Don’t skimp on sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, it’s more difficult to concentrate. Studies show that someone who has been awake for 24 hours has awareness and reflexes comparable to those of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.1, which is at or above the legal limit for drunk driving in most states.
3. Take a multivitamin to stay healthy.
4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Now is not the time to try out that new diet for the summer.
5. Avoid excessive caffeine. Too much caffeine from soda and coffee can lead to confusion, not lucidity.
6. Motivate yourself with a special treat, such as a night out with friends or a new magazine to look forward to after you finish your exams or papers.
7. Move around. Take a walk or do a workout video. The exercise will keep your heart pumping and gear you up for the hours of sitting at the library.

And remember, says Wrigley, the Educational Resource Center is there to help. Other campus resources for the stressed-out are the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at Student Health Services, 881 Commonwealth Ave., and the Psychological Services Center, 648 Beacon St.

The Educational Resource Center is again offering Coffee at Finals, a program that provides walk-in tutoring in biology, statistics, chemistry, physics, and economics. This free service runs from May 5 through 8 in CAS Room 319, and light refreshments will be served. For more information, click here.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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