Taking a break from stress during finals week can help your grades

by Julie Cappiello , Staff Writer

With the start of finals and stress levels reaching capacity, it is important to remember that study breaks are necessary.

Over the last decade stress on college campuses has steadily increased — 45 percent of college students seeking counseling reported stress in a 2015 study, according to the Center of Collegiate Mental Health.

A 2017 study of college students found students “felt overwhelming anxiety” within the last 12 months. Forty-seven percent of those students are men and 66.7 percent are women, according to American College Health Association. These percentages have increased in the last six years. The same organization published lower percentages in 2011 with men at 40.5 percent and women at 56 percent.

Finals is the eleventh hour of the school year and usually the most stressful time. Study breaks are important in order to finish out the year strong. There are many ways to wind down and spend study breaks.

On campus there are ways to reduce stress  with Associated Student’s Midnight Study Break on May 4. It is a free event for students with breakfast, contests and study tips from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. There are also the emotional support dogs that are usually in the Union during the week of finals. A study showed that dogs have an effect on college students’ mood and anxiety. In the study, both participants who had face-to-face interactions with dogs or saw a video of dogs saw a decline in negative moods. People who had face-to-face interactions saw an increase in positive moods.

Meditation can also be the key to alleviating stress. Most meditation exercises focus on breath, but it can be done by repeating a single word or mantra, counting mala beads or staring at a candle flame. It has been linked to lower blood sugar, lower heart rate, reduction in stress, anxiety and depression and levels of alertness.

Long hours in the library can make students feel fatigued and hungry. There are foods and drinks that students can snack on while cramming. Blueberries, green tea, avocados and leafy green vegetables contain antioxidants and vitamins that boost concentration and memory, and stimulate blood flow.

Sleep is critical and has a direct impact on stress levels in colleges students. Most students only get about 6 to 6.9 hours of sleep per night. It is recommended that young adults ages 18 to 25 years of age get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Coming down into the eleventh hour of the 2018-19 school year remember mental health is critical for good grades.