To Stress or Not To Stress

December 22, 2017

Matthew Gates, 22, is from Bowie, Maryland and is currently studying Journalism at Hampton University. He is an active advocate for the queer and bleeding disorders community, using various platforms to spread awareness. As an Eagle Scout, one important slogan that Matthew carries, in his everyday life, is the saying “do a good turn daily.” Matthew believes that kindness is contagious and when we allow ourselves to be a light and spread kindness, people find beauty in that are encouraged to do the same.

As the fall semester slowly comes to a close, and final exams approach, students may need to pay closer attention to their mental health. As a college graduate, I’ve been there; late nights, early mornings and 30-minute naps appeared to be the recipe for exams. However, I understood the amount of stress that comes along with my college duties required some attention.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor—such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events—can be stressful. Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stress events so that you know when to seek help. As is so, it is encouraged that students take advantage of their school counseling centers and safe environments to navigate their emotions.

One strategy that is encouraged is to find a peer group of people that are dealing with similar college-like stress. According to, people who have shared life experiences have a unique ability to help each other based on a shared history and a deep understanding that may go beyond what exists in other relationships. People offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for the natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery.

Fun fact, you’re not the only one at your school that is stressing over finals, so take a deep breath and relax. From personal experience, I found it beneficial to form study groups amongst classmates; with a few breaks of chit-chat and laughs throughout the session. Surrounding yourself with the love and support of friends, while preparing for finals, can take away a big chunk of the anxiety cake you’ve been eating.

Reminder: Take Study Breaks

Hey, remember your favorite song? — take a 5-minute break and jam out to that. Hearing the video game noises coming from your buddy’s room next door? — take a 10-minute break and join him for a few rounds. Taking a break from the stress of the “finals realm” is a great avenue for you to recharge your batteries. Stepping away from your biology textbook is not a recipe for disaster; I guarantee the photo of the flying squirrel, on the textbook cover, will still be the same when you return.

When finals arrive, trust all your preparation. Don’t allow the negative thoughts of “did I study well enough….” or “wait — what was the formula for…” cloud your mind. Trust and believe that your efforts will reflect in the score of your tests. Once you walk out of the exam, confident and prosperous, make sure to give the flying squirrel, on your textbook cover, a high five; then jam out to your favorite song.