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6 tips to help students stress less

Students can avoid much of the stress of finals by preparing and studying ahead of time for the big test.
National Stress Awareness Day is April 16, only one week away from finals at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Simon Cordery, UNG's director of student counseling, has advice to help students – and really anyone – de-stress and perform their best.

Remember that it's not possible to live without stress.

A moderate level of stress results in optimal performance in most situations. It's only as stress levels increase past the midpoint that a person's ability to function begins to diminish.

Prioritize and don't procrastinate.

The main cause of stress during finals is the combination of the lack of time students allow themselves to prepare and poor study skills. There is simply no shortcut to take when preparing for an exam – or for the big presentation at work. If you begin preparing a few weeks ahead of time, there is no need to cram the night before.

When facing any deadline, do not let all your work pile up; try to give yourself adequate time to get things done and get them done correctly. Narrow your focus and take things one step at a time instead of constantly thinking of the bigger picture.

As the saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"

Think positive.

Change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Thoughts such as, "If I don't pass this class my life is over" or "If this presentation isn't perfect I'll get fired" do little to improve performance, but much to fill you with fear of the worst-case scenario. If you keep your thoughts clear and positive, you are likely to focus and successfully handle a situation.

Take care of yourself.

To maintain a healthy level of stress, start with taking care of yourself. The average person needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also, proper nutrition can help you reduce unnecessary stress on your body. Make time to take care of yourself, or you risk poor performance and feeling overwhelmed.

Take deep breaths.

It may seem simple, but it has a large effect on your body. Deep breaths actually send messages to your parasympathetic nervous system that everything is okay and safe. This gets us out of the primitive survival part of our brain and allows us to more fully access and use the frontal lobe, the part of our brain we use to make smart decisions.

Create healthy and supportive relationships.

Everyone needs someone to confide in. Whether it is a significant other, a family member, a friend, or a trusted therapist, make sure you can talk to someone you trust.

UNG students who feel they do not have anyone to talk to are encouraged to speak to a therapist at student counseling.

Students on the Dahlonega Campus can call student counseling at 706-864-1819 or visit room 246 in the Stewart Center. Students on the Gainesville Campus can contact 678-717-3660 or visit student counseling in the Student Center room 115. Students on the Oconee Campus can contact student counseling at 706-310-6205 or visit the Administration Building. Students on the Cumming campus can call the Dahlonega or Gainesville campus to set up a meeting.

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