For finals success, attitude matters

How changing your attitude toward studying for your exams can improve your final grades.

Courtney Johnson

I am stressed out to the max. End of the semester projects remain hardly touched, final papers need to be written and final exams have to be studied for. This collection of tasks is not unusual for any other college student anxiously anticipating the end of the semester. When faced with these types of predicaments, students âÄî including myself âÄî start to panic and doubt themselves. However, the tense and self-doubting student is not as well off compared to the calm and confident student once final grades are distributed. Becoming a calm and collected student at the end of the semester does not happen overnight, but it is worth it. The trick is to modify the way these inescapable anxieties affect you and approach them with a more positive outlook. In my experience, this has resulted in more motivation, better grades and a happier and healthier lifestyle. The first step is to eliminate negative self-talk. Self-talk is the series of thoughts that run through a personâÄôs head daily. Instead of thinking negatively, having a positive and happy attitude has been scientifically proven to correlate with success, improve memory and enhance problem solving skills. With finals nearing, the pity parties that students throw themselves result in unproductivity. Negative thoughts are a waste of time for busy students. Those thoughts distract them from the constructive thinking that they are better off spending their time on. When time is more productively spent, goals for studentsâÄô classes become clearer and easier to accomplish. When it is easier to meet these goals, students will often feel more motivation to get them completed. Happier attitudes increase the release of dopamine in the brain, which improves cognitive flexibility and perspective. This is a prime example of how clearer and more positive outlooks build better outcomes for students. It just takes a student consciously staying optimistic, ignoring their pessimism and using their anxieties as a driving force for their new happier persona. I know and understand how relieving it is to use negative thoughts to blow off steam âÄî IâÄôve been there. But the trouble with this is that these thoughts take up a studentâÄôs mental space and block their potential. I cannot tell you how many âÄúwoe is meâÄù stories I have seen online and heard in the last week. All of these stories stem from the negativity students harbor and build up in their minds. So, instead of using these thoughts to de-stress, making a conscious effort to resist personal despair is vital to stress management. If this is still not enough, exercising and practicing time management are both great ways to supplement a positive thinking attitude. A simple 20-minute run on a treadmill at the Recreation Center is a great way to loosen the muscles that have been stiff from sitting at a desk for hours. But running doesnâÄôt just help the body physically âÄî it also helps mentally. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising is âÄúmeditation in motionâÄù and allows the mindâÄôs perspective on the difficult circumstances at hand to relax. For some, finding the time for a measly 20-minute workout might seem like a challenge âÄî but think again. When time is properly managed and students put in the effort to make this happen in their schedule, students are more relaxed and are able to maintain their optimism. This is all easier said than done. But students can gain confidence in themselves by intentionally having a positive attitude, eliminating the negative self-talk and working out. It may take some time to adjust these negative attitudes, but students will be less stressed and will get better grades as a result.