Swamp Talk: How to Reduce Stress Before Finals

By Chelsea Perry

Finals are just around the corner. With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, it’s easy for us to become overwhelmed with everything we have on our plates (other than the turkey and stuffing, of course). Whether it’s studying for finals or writing papers, the holiday season can prove to be an extremely stressful time for students.

According to GatorWell Health Promotion Services at UF, stress is the No. 1 academic impediment reported by UF students. But worry not! Here are our best stress-reducing tips.

1. Keep calm and carry on

The “Keep Calm and Carry On” book is packed with awesome motivational quotes about how to, well, keep calm. Our favorite?

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

You can find this book at Barnes and Noble and most other book retailers. Crunched for time and can’t access it? Download the Anti-Stress Quotes app, available in the iTunes App Store.

2. Get a decent amount of sleep

It may be tempting to cram a semester’s worth of studying into one night and force yourself into pulling the dreaded all-nighter, but sleep deprivation is one of the worst things you can do when trying to fight stress. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more irritable and more likely to have a depressive episode or meltdown. And, not getting any shut-eye actually decreases your ability to remain alert and retain information, making passing that exam even more of a challenge. Shoot for at least seven hours of sleep every night. If you do find yourself having to study all night, try and get at least two hours of sleep. Some sleep is always better than none.

3. Open a window or get outside

Yes, reducing your stress levels can actually be that simple. Sunlight increases serotonin levels in the brain, leading to less stress and a better mood. In fact, not enough exposure to sunlight can actually cause depression in some people. So get outside and take a breather, even if it’s just for five minutes.

4. Pucker up

Kissing is another great stress reducer. This isn’t an excuse to go out and kiss everyone you see, but seriously, kissing has been scientifically proven to combat stress. Kissing reduces anxiety because it releases feel-good endorphins. Even one 10-second kiss before your big exam can help you relax, and therefore help you perform better.

5. Give in to your cravings

OK, this is probably the only time we’re going to tell you to pick up that box of chocolates, but giving in to your cravings for carbohydrates can actually give you temporary satisfaction and reduce stress levels for the time being. Consuming your favorite carb-filled foods can increase serotonin levels and make you feel more relaxed. Note that this is only temporary, and eating foods that are high in carbs too often can have the opposite effect on you long-term. But if you’re stressing about that giant research paper you have due next week, take a break and have a date with Ben & Jerry.

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