End of semester signals start of stress


Jenna Liu

[heading size=”18″]Finals week kicks off flood of tests and stress[/heading] [dropcap style=”simple”]W[/dropcap]ith the end of semester comes finals, and with finals comes stress. For many of the roughly 2,000 students walking RBHS’ halls, this week is jam-packed with tests, leading some to ask how it is possible to deal with it all.
For junior Madison Wright, managing her schedule this week is a crucial task; in addition to the finals she has coming up, Wright also has swim practice every weekday morning from 6 to 8 a.m.
“I think finals are a stressful time for everyone because you’re trying to get your grades up in a really short amount of time and, depending on the difficulty of the classes you are taking, that can be really overwhelming,” Wright said. “Time management definitely becomes an issue because you have a lot to do but not a lot of time to do it.”
While stress might seem like a normal part of the average teenager’s life, studies have shown that exam-induced stress can wreak a serious toll on a person’s body. Dr. Nicky Hayes, editor of Foundations of Psychology, found that students’ reaction to a teacher telling them a final exam is approaching may cause stress that triggers the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous and endocrine system. Symptoms of this stress include unnatural sleep patterns, unhealthy eating habits, decreased concentration ability and an increased propensity to infections.
[quote]“Time management definitely becomes an issue because you have a lot to do but not a lot of time to do it.” — Madison Wright[/quote] With these effects in mind, the stress plan projects that teacher Tim Dickmeyer has assigned his AP Psychology classes may mean more than just classwork. Senior Marilise Stamps, who is in Dickmeyer’s class, said the projects aimed to address stressors in students’ lives and provide definite plans for how to address those stressors.
“I would say that having a plan in place to deal with a stressor did help alleviate that stress because I had some concrete ideas on how to deal with it,” Stamps said. “It also helped because I am sure that, without having the stressors actually written down, I would have continued to skirt around the issue and procrastinate on dealing with it.”
One of Stamps’ major stressors is the burden of college applications deadlines that are quickly approaching.
“The fact that [applications] are due at around the same time that we take finals is really stressful,” Stamps said. “You have to find a way to balance out studying time with application time.”
Since the majority of Dickmeyer’s AP Psychology class is composed of seniors, the increased stress the upperclassmen are facing was one of the reasons Dickmeyer chose to assign the stress plan projects at this time of the year.
“This group of finals tends to be very stressful for seniors. Plans still aren’t decided, scholarships are up in the air; so these [finals] are still very important to the majority of college-bound students,” Dickmeyer said.
While Wright is not taking AP Psychology and did not complete a stress plan project, she does deal with stress in her own way. Wright says her personal methods involve herbal therapy and organization.
“I handle stress by drinking a lot of tea and by planning out my time and creating specific times to get all of my work done,” Wright said. “I think the weeks leading up to finals week are the only times I use my planner.”
As for the stress plans, Dickmeyer said their function extends beyond just being another assignment on a homework to-do list. Many students experiencing high levels of stress have not developed an organized method of coping, he said, which he hopes the stress plans can help provide.
“It’s rare for your typical high school student to have laid something down on paper that says, ‘Okay, here’s some analysis of what’s causing me stress and here’s a plan of how to deal with it,’” Dickmeyer said.  “Generally the response [to the stress project] has been positive. It’s usually one of the things that people report back on at the end of the year to continue.”
Infographic by Joy Park
What are some ways you cope with stress? Leave a comment below![vc_empty_space][vc_custom_heading text=”Check out more stories on how to cope with stress:” google_fonts=”font_family:Cabin%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C500%2C500italic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”2″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1451545599117-a7fc30f1-1bc5-6″ taxonomies=”3771″][vc_empty_space][vc_custom_heading text=”How are other educational institutions dealing with stress from school? Here’s some outside coverage on stress and school:” google_fonts=”font_family:Cabin%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C500%2C500italic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][TS_VCSC_Fancy_List]
  • Read the Los Angeles Times’ coverage on how Pamona College is helping their students through finals week
  • With 40 students hospitalized with mental health problems, check out how Windsor, New Jersey addressed this high level of stress and their ethnic barriers, courtesy of the New York Times.