Feature Article | Stress and Finals

Stress. Anxiety. Worry. It’s inevitable for college students as they near the end of the semester.
   
But God calls us out of these feelings and into the peace He desires to give us. Maybe you’ve heard that before, but you don’t know exactly how to go about peace in a practical sense.

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible translates 1 Peter 3:11.

Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony, undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions and morale conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellow men and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]

I think we can apply this verse to finals season by understanding we need to search for and live out practical actions that will cultivate God’s peace in ourselves, even when we have so much to do on our plates.
   
Here are a few thoughts and strategies on how to seek and pursue God’s peace during finals season.

Don’t procrastinate

Probably the No. 1 thing that causes stress during finals is procrastination—above even the tests and projects themselves. That’s because it wastes time, making you feel underprepared and consequently more worried.  

Harder said than done, but make an effort to focus on the work you have to do. For the length of finals season, choose to discontinue services that you know will distract you. Have friends change passwords and tell you once Christmas break starts. Do what you need to do in order to stay focused.

Also, remind yourself of why you’re studying at this university. Your end goal is education. Thank God for this opportunity through your actions by engaging with the assignments and tests that will solidify your knowledge on the skills and information you have learned this semester.    
 
Choose intentional rest

Intentional rest is not just numbing your mind by scrolling through Instagram or binging several episodes on Netflix. Intentional rest is actively choosing to take a break and deciding on an activity that, one, rests the part of your body that has been working and, two, refreshes you to continue working later.

Schedule your days. Set breaks for yourself instead of just letting them happen. When you do this, you’ll find you will be able to better study during the time you are supposed to be and not get as distracted and take unintended breaks.

Also, choose any activity that rests your mind. That could be watching a TV show or movie, but maybe a more wise decision could be to go outside and take a walk or putting aside time to bake cookies with a friend. Choose break activities that get you away from the computer screen and get your mind and body doing something different and refreshing.

Get sleep

Studying should not come as a priority over sleeping. During finals week, sleeping is probably more important than during any other time of the year—not that it’s not important at other times. Sleep maximizes the problem solving skills our brains are capable of and enhances our memories.

If you think pouring over flash cards for one more hour into the night will help you better know the information on your exams, it probably won’t. Getting a good night’s sleep will more likely help you recall the information you have already studied.
 
Remember where your identity is rooted—and where it’s not

The grade you receive on your final exam does not reflect your value. A or F. You are valuable because God says you are. God says you are chosen (Ephesians 1:4), accepted (John 1:12), treasured (Deuteronomy 7:6), eternally loved (Romans 8:38-39) and fully forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21).  

Whatever happens over the next week and a half, remember these things. Write these verses (or others that remind you of who God says you are) on a notecard to carry around as you study or at the top of your tests before you begin.

This is more important than any of the other practical strategies above. Trust what the Creator of the universe says about you, and it’s life changing. Don’t believe His words are that powerful? Remember what the Bible says in Genesis 1. God said “let there be light,” and there was light. He spoke this world into beginning. His words are powerful and true.    
 
Author | Lindsey Conway

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