Don’t Let Stress Mess with Final Exam Success

In honor of finals week, let’s take a “stress test” together and see if you are mentally prepared.

Q. 1  Stress hormones make you better, faster, stronger and ready to take a big test.

A) True

B) False

C) Maybe

Q. 2  The best way to study for final exams is to pull an “all-nighter” the night before.

A) True

B) False

C) Maybe

Q. 3  When it comes to studying effectively, it helps if you can sit down for four hours straight.

A) True

B) False

C) Maybe

Q. 4 While studying, it is best to use the vending machines as a convenient source of nutrition.

A) True

B) False

C) Maybe

How do you think you scored?  Did you ace your test?

Let’s begin with Q. 1.  The answer is C) Maybe.  It is true that Epinephrine and Cortisol, the stress hormones, will help mobilize fuels for energy during times of stress.  You will notice your heart racing, your blood pressure rising, your breathing increasing, and you feel like you are ready for anything!  That works great in a fight or flight scenario when you need energy in a hurry.  It’s not ideal when you need to focus on a two-hour exam.

Over the long haul, if you are constantly under stress, the body does not appreciate the megadoses of ready-to-go energy.  Constant stress affects the quality and quantity of your sleep, it reduces immune function, raises your blood pressure and puts your heart under a great deal of stress.  And most importantly, it affects your ability to concentrate.  Ah yes. We need that brain for test taking.  And did I mention that chronic stress affects memory?

Q. 2.  The answer to this question is an unequivocal “false.”  Final answer.  If you have not studied up until this point, don’t bother.  The full night of sleep will better prepare you to think logically and make smart decisions, even if you are a little shaky on the details.  Rest is more valuable to you at this point.  Fatigue will simply add to your exam stress and debilitate your brain. Maybe next semester you will set up a study plan.  Contact the GCC Counseling Department if you need help!

Q. 3.  FALSE!!! You don’t have to sit down to study!  If you sit for four hours straight, your brain will not stay on task for you.  And if you experience back pain, then you will likely make it worse.  Movement is key to keeping the brain focused. In fact, regular physical activity like walking, cycling or swimming will not only help you clear your head, but it will dissolve those nasty stress hormones that are affecting your ability to think clearly.  There are a myriad of reasons why exercise is good for you.  Think of it as preventative medicine for diseases of inactivity: heart disease, some cancers, back pain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental health issues.

Visit the Fitness & Wellness department and discover ways to stay active during your finals week prep.  Check out the state-of-the-art campus Fitness Center and the variety of group fitness classes like Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Cycling, Weight Training and Self Defense.  And if you just love fitness and want to make a career out of it, why not try out our Exercise Science and Personal Training programs.

Q. 4. False again!  Unless the machine is dispensing fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains, walk away.  Just walk away!  Just like you should have a study plan in place, so should you have an eating plan!  Pack your grains, fruits and veggies for snacking in between meals.  Don’t let four hours go by without fueling up!  At exactly four hours, the brain chemicals will direct you to the nearest source of sugar.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Douse those sugar cravings with a sliced apple dipped in protein packed peanut butter at least an hour before the impending crash.  Chew on raisins and nuts, a half a bagel with almond butter, celery and hummus, carrot sticks, and don’t forget to bring your water bottle.  You can refill it for nada at any of the water refill stations on campus.  Put down the soda and energy drinks and remind yourself that you can get the sugar from fruit, the fluid from water, and the energy boost from the regularly scheduled fitness plan.  Your racing heart will thank you.

So, did you ace your stress test or did you learn something new to boost your chances of success on exam day?  Either way, don’t let stress mess with YOUR final exam stress!  On test day, be sure to eat a wholesome breakfast that will stay with you.  Be confident that you have done the work.  Focus on your breathing and envision the air entering and exiting your body.  Now your brain is ready for success!

If you enjoyed this article, let me know your thoughts for future health and fitness articles!  Contact me at louise.so@gccaz.edu.

 

 

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