There are only four weeks left in the semester and the stress of finals season is beginning to loom over the entire campus.
I feel the tense and tired air when I walk into the library at night, and I see the darkening bags underneath students' eyes. I wanted to see if any past students had some advice for us current students about the inevitable stress of finals season. So I went back to 1989 to see what advice The Brand had to offer.
The Oct. 12, 1989 edition of The Brand featured advice from best selling author Dr. Robert J. Kriegel PhD.. According to Kriegel, "Worrying is the negative national pastime," which should be avoided because of its negative consequences. We do not think or perform clearly when we worry because we focus on the "what ifs" in life. These "what ifs" can lead us into a spiral of anxiety and depression.
Kriegel also noted that the first national study on pain in America indicated that people ages 18-24 are more likely to suffer from stress and pain than any other adult group. What we worry about the most are the things out of our control. Whether that be what our friends think of us, the weather, money, our professors or the future, we cannot directly control those things, so it is only hurting us to waste time worrying about them.
Kriegel offers a fantastic rule of thumb: "You can't control other people or external situations. But you can control how well you prepare for and respond to them." I love this advice because I think it is the healthiest way to cope with stress. Kriegel is trying to teach stressed-out students that we cannot control how our professors grade our exams, but we can control how well we study for them. We also cannot control how others view us, but we can always put our best foot forward and be kind to everyone.
Kriegel's final advice is a solution to our worries. We need to change our "what ifs'' into "if-thens." "If I don't get the grade I want on my final, then I can retake the class and try again" or "if my friends are mad at me, then I will talk to them and figure out where I went wrong." The key to not being overcome by the stress of college, especially during finals season, is to control the controllable and combat the negative thoughts. Do not get bogged down by the "what ifs." Instead, challenge those thoughts and turn them into empowering "if-then" statements.
Kriegel and the 1989 Brand staff wrote a timeless piece on how to cope with college stress. I believe that if we all try to assimilate at least one of Kriegel's tactics then we will all come out of finals week alive and well. Let us all make it a goal to worry a little less and smile a little more.