Managing stress as first semester finals approach

Rushing through the cold fall air into the doors of the Hinsdale Starbucks, you choose a table to sprawl your numerous textbooks and folders across. After ordering a coffee and placing it next to your laptop, you notice the many other students writing in notebooks and frantically scanning their packets. You focus on your own materials and are ready for the hours of studying you are soon to be faced with. This is what a typical student’s day looks like just before the first semester exams.

With finals approaching in less than two weeks, many students struggle with staying calm before the exams. While not all students are anxious and nervous, there are many who are not confident.

“I’m stressed for finals because some of my classes are really hard and there is a lot more to study for in those classes than in my other classes,” said Sharika Kottapalli, freshman. “Also, it is the first time I’m taking finals, so I’m not really sure what to expect.”

With the pressure of finals, many aren’t sure of what to do and what not to do in order to relieve their stress. Mr. Peter Hutcheon, social worker, lists common pitfalls students do before finals. 

“[I would advise against] not getting enough sleep,” Mr. Hutcheon said. “I also know a lot of people will overuse caffeine before the tests. I would also say some people might take prescription drugs that they’re not prescribed in order to cram and try to focus- that’s obviously not advisable.”

The methods of studying tend to vary from student to student, and some students start to prepare for finals earlier than others.

“I haven’t started studying yet, but I’m probably going to start a week or so before finals,” said Chris Freeman, junior.

Although there is no right or wrong way to study, there are many tips which could benefit in making a student less stressed and more confident. Mr. Hutcheon points out the common studying flaw that some students tend to make before finals.

“I feel like a lot of [students] will say ‘Oh, I’m just going to relearn all of this content in a two night period’ rather than chunking their review throughout the semester, so kind of just setting unrealistic expectations for how they learn,” Mr. Hutcheon said.

In terms of reducing stress, each student received an email from Ms. Laura Milas, the Art Department Chairperson, earlier this week encouraging students to stop by the Semester Art Show.

“Viewing and making art has been found to reduce stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” Ms. Milas said in her email.

Michalea Halikias
The Semester Art Show took place Tuesday, Dec. 5 through Thursday, Dec. 7 in room 216.

The Semester Art Show was Tuesday, Dec. 5 through Thursday, Dec. 7 in room 216. It featured pieces such as portraits, ceramic pieces, jewelry, and posters from all art classes.

Additionally, HCHS CARE Club offered Pet Therapy after school on Thursday, Dec. 7 in the Senior Café from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in order to reduce stress.

“Pet therapy can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase positivity and socialization,” Mrs. Kelsey Sopron said in the Daily Announcements email.

There are many other ways to become less nervous and anxious as semester exams are nearing, such as adjusting your sleep schedule or making minor lifestyle changes.

“Getting a lot of sleep the night before helps me focus better on the test,” Freeman said.

As finals quickly approach, there are six social workers who are always willing to listen and give advice when you are feeling stressed or ever have a lot on your mind.

“Set realistic expectations, take care of yourself, and remind yourself that in order to really learn something you need to have a ratio of learning to breaks,” Mr. Hutcheon said. “Put everything into perspective and realize that high school is not the end all be all. While you might feel like this is really important, don’t be too hard on yourself would be my final piece of advice. Everything comes with ups and downs in life.”