Well-being with Meaning: Making Finals Week Easier

As the semester pulls the rug from underneath us, we’ve got to find healthy ways to maintain our sanity. You have eight projects due within the first two weeks of December and you’ve got twenty-four hours in each day to complete each assignment plus you’ve got to maintain your job and manage your “social life.” Calling your mom and hearing her say, “Just take one thing at a time” feels like the most removed and most frustrating tactic that you could endure. “How could I take one thing at a time when I have three research papers due the Monday we get back from Thanksgiving?!”
It’s a serious challenge to calm down for a second, collect your thoughts and move forward in a more productive manner. It’s almost as if stress has such a profound effect on you that trying to manage it more positively seems nearly impossible.

The most effective approach is to recognize what stress is, how it affects our mental and physical well-being and find ways to eliminate these symptoms in order to have a more productive outcome.

What is stress? Well, duh! Stress is a psychological and physical reaction to external demands. To get all scientific, when an external force impacts you, your body responds by releasing hormones to ignite your ‘fight-or-flight’ reflexes. With whatever you’re pursuing, demanding responsibilities continually call for your attention; therefore our hormonal responses are continual. This is incredibly overwhelming because the chemical reaction in moments of stress have considerable affect on how we think, feel and treat others. Also, living with high levels of stress can seriously impact your health. If your body frequently releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, creating more work for your heart. A hormone such as cortisol, the initial stress hormone, elevates sugars in the bloodstream, ultimately weakening the immune system and repressing the reproductive and digestive systems (MayoClinic.com).

“Oh, so that’s why I always get sick at some point during the semester!” These hormones also influence the areas in our brains that control our moods and levels of motivation. Therefore managing stress is integral when attempting to accomplish the tasks ahead of you before the semester concludes.

Stress and your…
Physical well-being: may experience headaches, sleep deprivation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, palpitations, muscle tension…
Mental well-being: may experience irritability, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, lack of attention…
Behavior: may experience overeating, underrating, difficulties in your relationships, social withdrawal, drug and alcohol abuse
*Remember, everyone is different. Best way to understand how stress affects you is to recognize how you’re feeling or the differences in your behavior. You can let stress control your life, or you can play an active role in controlling your stress.

I know it’s hard to think about this but it is possible, regardless of your excuses. Making the time to exercise will improve your well-being, thus having a considerable affect on how you conduct yourself. Physical activity produces endorphins, the “feel good neurotransmitters” that aid in concentration and attentiveness. Not only will activity improve your mood, but it will reduce the pent-up energy that most often creates anxiousness and sleep deprivation. The 20 to 40 minutes that you set aside to exercise can act as “meditation through movement”. In doing so, you will collect yourself, think through what you have to accomplish and will ultimately have a more productive approach with whatever you face. I promise. I often hear, “But I don’t have time” or “That helps you but not me.” Well I say, give it chance. Take your notes and sit on the bike for 30 minutes. Audio record your notes on the computer, transfer them to iTunes and play them while you run. The hardest part is getting started but the more you do, the easier it becomes. Make the time to perform low to moderate activity for at least three consecutive days and I bet you’ll feel better. I don’t care what anyone says, exercise supersedes the ‘easier’ ways (alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes whatever else) to reduce stress. Take this into consideration.

Also, eating well and drinking plenty of water improves energy and attentiveness. Our brains are made mostly of water, so drinking more helps process our thoughts, aids in alertness and concentration. (Mangosteen-natural-remedies) For more information about what a ‘healthy food choice’ is feel free to contact Evelyn Gezo, the campus nutritionist at gezoe@newpaltz.edu.

Cat Juliano

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Well-being with Meaning: Making Finals Week Easier (Continued)

Thu Dec 2 , 2010
Here are three simple things that may help you when you’re doing work in the next couple of weeks. PLEASE post comments about what helps you study, I need some advice too! Make a list. I find that jotting down what I’ve got to accomplish ‘today’ makes the overwhelming amount […]