Stress during finals: A Q&A with Professor Becky Heinrick
With finals being the primary focus of college students at Central Oregon Community College this past week, stress levels are rapidly rising. Stress Management professor Becky Heinrick gives some much needed insight on handling stress properly during this possibly overwhelming week.
The Broadside: How long have you been teaching stress management?
Becky Heinrick: I have been teaching stress management at COCC since 2009.
TB: During midterms, are there any patterns you notice in your students?
BH: I have more students reaching out to express their stress levels and apologize in advance if they seem distracted. We then talk about ways to slow our stress response down, specifically using the appraisal process and organization.
TB: What are a few practical tips you have for students during final week to help limit their stress and control their stress responses?
BH: Prioritization and organization! What classes do you need a better midterm grade in? Which midterm is coming up first? Which one is of the most importance? Outline your schedule to keep you on track, but do not feel defeated if you fall off here and there. Just refocus and move from there. Also, take breaks! Walk away from studying here and there to give your mind a break and recharge.
TB: What were a couple methods of studying that you used for stressful weeks, such as finals, when you were in college yourself?
BH: Study groups. Talk things over, explain how you understand the material and let your group share their thoughts.. A lot of the time, we get a better understanding when we explain it ourselves. Say your understanding of the material out loud if even by yourself. Schedule time to master material one part at a time and then eventually put it all together. Ask your teacher for more clarification. If they are busy see the tutoring center. Create little rhymes or sayings to help with memory. For example, in my health class HDL cholesterol is good so we focus on the H meaning healthy. LDL cholesterol is not good so we focus on the L meaning lethal. Just simple little things that can help.
TB: If you could give students any further advice, what would it be?
BH: Do not procrastinate. Find humor. Exercise out your stress. Get enough sleep. Supply your brain with energy so do not skip meals. Believe in yourself. Practice having a higher internal locus on control. And use that appraisal process. A good thing to note is our mind and body function better when we are in homeostasis (balance) so limiting the effects of negative stress can be very beneficial.