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End of Semester Stress

Student studyingWith final exams approaching, the workload for many UF students is steadily increasing. Stress, anxiety and pressure frequently accompany this final round of exams, papers, and presentations. How can a student best cope?

Be smart about your strategy

A wise person once asked me, “If I gave you a chalk and asked you to jump as high as you can against a wall, and then draw a line on the wall at the highest point of your jump, how would you optimize your score if you have a day to accomplish this task and only the highest line on the wall will be graded? Would you keep jumping as fast and as hard as you can in an attempt to jump higher in order to maximize your score … or would you plan your jumps with strategies such as taking a break after a jump, allowing your muscles to learn from the previous jumps and then adjust accordingly, and even consult with others who did well on the jump?” The answer should be obvious. The first strategy will only wear us out and make it harder to get a good score, whereas the second strategy insures that we will continue to improve our score. Work better not harder.

Know your stress level and when/how to reduce it

When there is a lot going on and many aspects of life seem beyond our control, we begin to feel stress. For each of us stress manifests itself in different ways. In general, moderate stress motivates one to study. Too much stress however, diminishes one’s performance. Be aware of what stress does to you, then step back and think of some action you can take to reduce it.

  • List it out. Make a list of what you believe needs to be done. Prioritize the list and be realistic about how much time it will take. Examine what really needs to stay on the list and eliminate the rest. Make another list of what helps you relax and integrate it with the first list.
  • Know your limits. Do the best you can. Ask for help. If English is not your first language, go to your instructors early and seek possible accommodations for exams. Ask directions for studying especially if you are not used to the education system.
  • Recognize and intervene if approaching holidays are adding to your stress. In addition to the demands of academics, students may be coping with the expectations and emotions associated with a holiday season. International students may be anticipating the challenges of returning home or staying in the U.S. over the break. Plan for your break to minimize the associated stress. For those students staying in Gainesville, this time can be difficult if you have financial pressure and no where to go. Talk to your friends and learn about different activities in town. You may visit some places with a group of people or visit a local friend’s home to experience the culture and traditions around the holidays. Get together with friends who are also staying in town to have your own celebrations — maybe starting new traditions. To discover different alternatives such as these, however, you will need to plan ahead and ask around.
  • Consult with available resources. UF has a number of resources for students to effectively deal with a wide variety of problems that can interfere with their academic progress. Among the key student support resources:

Don’t let the stress of semester ending responsibilities isolate or overwhelm you. And let us know how we can support you. Make sure to check out CWC workshop schedule for face-to-face opportunities to learn more about coping with stress effectively. Good luck!


Counseling and Wellness Center
3190 Radio Road, PO Box 112662
Gainesville, FL 32611-2662
Phone: (352) 392-1575
Fax: (352) 392-8452 

Office Hours:  Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm

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