Stress is in the Air

By Austin Moehn, Caleb Miller, Dylan Schmidt & Travis Leiterman


Many college students are dreading the stresses of moving out, starting summer jobs, and for some, even graduation. However, students must first complete final exams and projects. The last weeks of school, known as finals week, are very stressful times, and most students struggle to not get overly stressed.

According to the Mayo Clinic Medical Center, stress is a trigger when the hypothalamus, a small region in your brain, sets the alarm through your nervous and hormonal systems. Once this alarm is triggered, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released. The adrenaline starts to raise your heart rate and blood pressure, while the cortisol (the primary stress hormone) increases the sugar level in your bloodstream, which helps to repair tissues in your brain and body. In return, however, it suppresses your digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes. This entire process is considered stress, and often influences our mood (Mayo Clinic Staff).

Ryan Martin is the Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He is also the Interim Chair of the Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology Program. Martin was able to provide an expert perspective as a psychology professor. He explained that stressful times, such as finals, impact students’ mental health. “There’s a clear link between stress and mental health, and it’s exacerbated when students don’t have great coping skills in those moments.” Martin described that students without coping skills might end up engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as binge drinking, overeating, and not getting enough sleep.

Ryan Martin is a Professor of Psychology and an Associate Dean for the College of Arts. His work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR’s Invisibilia podcast, and
(Photo credit UW-Green Bay)

Stress does more than impact humans emotionally as it also tends to be felt physically. “A lot of times, stress shows up in the body through muscle tension, headaches, or stomach aches.” Martin made it known that it is important to pay attention to these physical symptoms. Even though headaches and muscle tension are common to most adults, these symptoms are more common during times of great stress. Martin also stated that feelings of irritability from stress and a sense of being overwhelmed are very common emotional reactions to high levels of stress.

“Doing things like getting out in nature for a quick walk, making sure you’re taking care of your physical body by getting good sleep and eating healthy meals…” are just some of the suggestions Professor Martin had. He also said that it is important to find time to relax or rest.

Running outdoors and eating healthy are two of the many methods of healthy coping to relieve stress. (Photo credit

By now, many college students have found their ways of coping with the stresses of finals week. One of these students is Dale Swanson. Swanson is a sophomore at UW-Green Bay and explained how he relieves stress. “Some way I relieve my stress is through playing soccer. When I play, it really melts away my stress,” said Swanson. He explained that whether his stress is from school or work, it all goes away when he gets outside and active, the stress goes away. He stated that he tends to relieve his stress either on the turf at the Kress Center on the campus of UW-Green Bay or in the library on campus is where he feels the most stress relief.

Most college students spend hours studying for finals during the last two weeks of school. (Photo credit UW-Green Bay)

Another student interviewed was Dylan Zoelle, who is a junior at UW-Green Bay. Zolle said, “I usually relieve stress by working out, playing the guitar, going for a walk, or just going outside.” He noted that finals week hadn’t had the biggest impact on his mental health this school year. “I know stressing isn’t going to do me any good, and if anything, I’m happy that the semester is ending. I’m confident I’ll do fine on my finals,” said Zoelle. The place that he said was where he relieved stress the most was the Kress Center. He explained that there is no better stress reliever for him than lifting weights. Another coping mechanism that Zoelle uses is a balanced schedule, especially during finals week. “I try to keep my schedule pretty mellow, so I don’t have a lot of other stuff to worry about and can just focus on the finals. I’ll do some studying and not try to cram it all into one day.”

It is important for students to take time out of their busy schedules to find healthy methods of coping, especially during stressful times. Coping methods such as taking a walk outside, working out, or just doing a hobby allows for students to maintain a better balance of their mental health and personal responsibilities. By getting stressors out of their minds, students are able to focus better on their finals and other responsibilities.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, July 8). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from

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