The Stress of Finals
BC students fight the stress that inevitably comes with finals.
May 2, 2011
As finals approach, stress is only a hop, skip, and, jump away for students dealing with assignments, not to mention their personal lives.
The truth is that everyone experiences stress on some level. Dr. Tom Bell, associate professor of exercise and sport science, shared a quote that to be free of stress is to be dead.
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Dr. Marsha Mead, assistant professor of psychology, defined stress as a reaction to events that physically or psychologically threaten or challenge us. Mead and Bell each shared the flight or fight response of the body. The response activates our bodies to deal with the stressor or run.
Bell explained that the body’s response to stress is the release of the hormone cortisol. After long periods of stress, cortisol can cause tissues in the body to breakdown.
For many people, said Mead, stress is a result of the way we think.
“We all engage in self-talk as we almost continuously evaluate what is going on around us,” said Mead. “If we exaggerate how bad or serious something is or tell ourselves we do not have the resources to cope with it, we will be stressed out.”
Bell said that people tend to globalize situations. For example, people may think that because a relationship did not work, now no one will ever be able to love them. All or nothing thinking is another common tendency. For instance, people think that because they are not the best, then they are a failure.
Bell said the situations that put a lot of demand on people tend to act as stressors, such as competitive sports, the week of finals, a heavy workload, and finances.
The definitions and causes described above line up with the answers of Bluefield College students and staff. Dr. David Olive, the president of Bluefield College, considers stress to be “high anxiety,” and the feeling of too much to accomplish in a short time. Olive’s stress occurs occasionally when he is behind in meeting deadlines.
For many students, stress comes with the balancing act of managing schoolwork and a personal life.
Hannah Spicer, a junior English education major, described a double life. When she can balance those areas, she is good. Spicer said she is not a procrastinator because she likes to be 100% prepared and do well in school.
“I can get too focused on school work and neglect some of the really important things, but school work is important, too,” said Spicer. “I just can’t tip the scale too much or I’ll stress out.”
Scott Polhamus, a senior Christian studies major, has a similar view of stress as being overwhelmed with work and worried about the amount and quality of the work. Polhamus recently lost his grandmother, which has caused change and stress on his family life.
Another student took a slightly different approach. Jackie Boyer, a sophomore church music major, defines stress as “anything that hinders you from focusing on other things, or causes worry.” Boyer describes herself as a pleaser, someone who stresses when a friend is mad at her. She admits she often times feeds off the stress of close friends.
Like the other students, a majority of Boyer’s stress comes from schoolwork.
“I can’t start on anything until it’s due soon because of all the other stuff I have to do,” said Boyer. “I am wondering how this will all work out, but I am confident that it will.”
Boyer is looking at stress the right way. Meads advice is to “Ask yourself how much it will matter a year from now.”