Students share suggestions for combating stress, test anxiety

(Photo Illustration by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

With finals season just around the corner, stress has a tight grip on students, as it does around this time of year.

According to a 2008 mental health study by the Associated Press and mtvU, eight out of 10 college students frequently experience stress with an additional 20 percent of the school-going population suffering from test anxiety as reported by the American Test Anxiety Association.

Olivia Barrett, junior in political science, said she has experienced test anxiety for quite some time. As a freshman, Barrett struggled with finding ways to cope with her stress, but as her college career has progressed, she has found what works best for her to reduce stress.

“When I find myself getting anxious about a test, I like to take some time for self-care,” Barrett said. “I paint or do facemasks to relax when I take study breaks.”

Proper time management while preparing for finals means allocating enough time for studying, working on final projects/papers and making sure to get adequate sleep. Paige Humphrey, vice president of Peer Advocates for Mental Wellness and Success and senior in biology, said she would encourage students to take short breaks while studying.

“During finals, it is important for students to manage their time effectively,” Humphrey said.

Barrett said the stress hasn’t been all bad for her because the natural adrenaline state associated with anxiety motivates her to study and get a good grade.

Humphrey said stress is not necessarily a bad thing unless it moves into distress, which is what creates anxiety and panic and requires immediate management.

“It may also be helpful for students to practice the 4-7-8 breathing method while taking a test or before a presentation if they are feeling overwhelmed,” Humphrey said.

The 4-7-8 breathing method works as follows: inhale through the nose for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale through the mouth for eight seconds. Participating in this breathing method can allow students to relax and gain more headspace, Humphrey said.

Other resources on campus include the variety of activities put on by P.A.W.S. during dead week and finals week. They will be tabling in the K-State Student Union and have a make-your-own stress ball station in addition to a coloring pages station.