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Reducing the Stress of Getting Through Finals

Jun 10, 2014

As summer settles in and academic years wrap up in the last few parts of the country, stress levels for both students and their parents can be elevated as everyone is crunched for time studying for finals, finishing class projects and preparing for all of the activities associated with the end of school. To help manage this commonly stressful school transition time, parents and students can turn to the following quick and easy tension-easing tips.

Manage Time, Manage Stress

When students get into the crunch time of finishing final essays and studying for their last exams, proper time management can help minimize stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. While all-night study sessions aren’t the best strategy for studying for finals, if your kids find themselves cramming in extra study hours, Olcott says to make sure they’re taking regular breaks to give their brains time to digest the information they’re taking in. For every hour of studying, schedule 10-minute brain and body breaks so your kids can step away from their studies to stretch their bodies and relax their minds.

“Your brain has two tiers of memory – short term and long term,” explains Lori Olcott, massage therapist at Elements Highpointe. “When you fill up your short-term memory, then you need to give it time to soak in and move into your long-term memory. This approach can help kids perform better because they’ll have a stronger grasp of what they’re learning, instead of taking in everything quickly and losing it as soon as they regurgitate it on the test.”

Another big component of proper time management is making sure your kids get a solid amount of restful sleep leading up to their exams or turning in a challenging academic project. Getting good, adequate sleep can be crucial for reducing the mental and physical stress of preparing for finals.

“More and more studies are coming out showing how important a full night of sleep is to your body’s health, your body’s ability to cope with stress and your brain’s ability to retain information,” shares Olcott. “Getting enough sleep is so crucial for both parents and kids during this time of year.”

Breathe In Calming Clarity

The pressure to excel, the uncertainty of where your kids are going to rank in grades and test scores, and the stress of going through the lengthy process of getting your kids into college or limited-admission private or charter schools can really weigh down a family this time of year. Olcott believes that trying to keep things in perspective is one of the most important stress-relief practices for both parents and kids.  She also suggests setting up calming elements in your house to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Encouraging your family to take a few deep breaths at the breakfast table before starting off your day or setting up 10 to 15 minutes of scheduled downtime right after school before studying can help clear any tension that might have built up throughout the day. Additionally, using natural aromatherapy scents in your home such as lavender to calm and soothe or mint to promote focus and clarity may help to maintain a more stress-free environment at home and while studying.

Exercise to Increase Memory, Promote Better Grades

Most would agree that exercising is beneficial to your total health and wellness. But your brain is no exception when it comes to exercise positively influencing capability and performance. In fact, experts believe that a moderate amount of intense exercise can improve your memory and may even help your kids score better academically.

Twenty minutes of intense exercise three times a week can not only help your kids get physically fit, but academically stronger. And incorporating active breaks during study sessions may even lead to more effective study habits as well.

“When kids take breaks while they study and move around, it gets blood moving around and tissues are nourished as fluids move throughout the body after long periods of sitting,” explains Olcott. “Getting out and exercising can also help stimulate blood flow that helps to bring the brain back in line and receptive to the information your kids are studying.”

Encourage, Support Your Kids’ Efforts

Many kids carry around a lot of stress this time of year because they are worried about letting their parents down by not performing to the high standards they think will make their parents proud. It’s always important to encourage and support your kids, but during high stress times like the end of the year make it a point to tell them that you have faith in them and you know they will do their best.

Olcott advises parents, though, against doing the work for their kids and letting them off the hook if they don’t actually put in the proper time and work needed to be successful.

“Encourage your kids and let them celebrate their victories.  But don’t let them slough off the consequences, either,” says Olcott. “As parents, it can be a real challenge to find the middle ground sometimes of helping out your kids and letting them discover lessons on their own.”

Keep your household’s stress in check by incorporating some of these anxiety-and-tension-reducing suggestions into your kids’ study routine. Helping your kids minimize and release their stress will not only help with improving their performances as they close out the end of school, but it also can help instill healthy habits for your kids and your family that can carry on throughout the year.

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