An IU professor and students said being organized in their studies and life during finals season helps keep stress levels down.
IU clinical psychology professor Anne Zhang said the Yerkes-Dodson curve describes the relationship between people’s anxiety and performance. The curve determines whether people will be motivated or overwhelmed by this pressure, Zhang said. She said it is important for students to stay in the middle of this curve with a healthy mix of pressure and relaxation.
Starting preparation for final exams early will allow students to stay healthy during the end of the semester, Zhang said. She said this can be done by intermittently reviewing throughout the semester to make finals week seem less daunting.
Having a good routine during the final stretch of the semester helps students stay on top of everything, Zhang said.
“Sleeping regularly, eating healthily and getting physical activity regularly are the fundamental ways to make sure your body is in working condition to support your mind,” Zhang said.
Having a balance between setting goals and being flexible to unexpected emergencies prevents all-or-nothing thinking such as the thought of either perfection or total failure, Zhang said.
Zhang said practicing self-compassion during this time can help alleviate being overly negative with unwanted thoughts about finals.
“It is important to do activities that bring your anxiety levels down,” Zhang said. “There is no need to struggle through high levels of stress when we have control over our own minds.”
Alexis Balamut, an IU freshman majoring in healthcare management and policy, said preparing early for her math final helps keep her anxiety levels down. Balamut said this way it prevents her from having to cram all the important information into her head the night before the exam.
“The material needs to marinate in my head, so breaking it up into smaller question pools helps my understanding,” Balamut said.
Putting finals into perspective as a freshman allows her to maintain peace of mind, Balamut said.
“This one exam will not determine my GPA for the next four years,” Balamut said.
Organizing the items you need to study is one way to start preparation for exams, Haley Harkness, an IU junior majoring in biochemistry, said.
Harkness said listing out the concepts she needs to review before her finals is how she stays on top of everything. She said while doing this she realizes she cannot redo every single thing she may need to review.
Staying positive during and before these exams helps to keep the pressures out, Harkness said.
“Stepping back and remembering why I am learning everything makes me so much less stressed,” Harkness said. “I actually enjoy studying.”
Anusuya Bandyopadhyay, an IU senior majoring in neuroscience, said breaking down exactly when she will complete each assignment is how she lightens her course load heading into the last week of the semester.
Going to her part-time job grants her some relief from the constant loop of studying for finals, Bandyopadhyay said.
“It is my last year of college and I am trying to have fun on top of getting my stuff done,” Bandyopadhyay said. “I have learned I need to take time for myself because I do not want to be burnt out come graduation.”