College Finals Week: No-Fail Ways to Banish Stress

by Sara Dann

Woman looking anxious with the word stress above her head

With the school year coming to an end and the promise of long, sunny days on the horizon, it’s common for a lot of us college students to get ahead of ourselves and slack off a little towards the end of the semester. The dark and dreary cloud that is “College Finals Week” is enough to vanquish even the most dedicated student. Stress is inevitable, and there might even be tears (especially if you’re opening your textbook for the first time this semester). However, there is no need to fret. Here are six ways you can combat stress during the next two weeks, to ensure a less anxiety-ridden week of cramming for exams, and get the A+ that you so desperately need.

Stress Tip #1: Go To the Study Session/Office Hours

It may not seem important (especially since you could just spend that extra time studying on your own), but study sessions are important because they’re run by your professor and you can count on the teacher to go over the material on the test, as opposed to sitting in the library, staring at your notes and wondering which topics are important. Office hours are even more important because they allow you to have one-on-one time with your professor to go over the most puzzling topics or review a subject over and over without holding back a group session or study group. Be sure to ask what the format of your exam will be. You’d be surprised how much less stress you’ll have when you know exactly what will be on the exam!

Stress Tip #2: Make a Study Plan/Time Block

For the love of all that is holy (and the great spaghetti monster in the sky for Lynchard’s Students), make a plan of attack for college finals…and stick to it. It’s so easy to put off tasks until the next day (because how much longer will Gilmore Girls be on Netflix, really) but if you block out your time for the next week, and assign certain tasks to certain blocks, and stick to them, you’d be surprised at how much you get done. For instance, every day I allow myself one hour to review the material and do homework for each class I’m taking. Following that, I’ll then dedicate an extra hour a day to the class that I have an impending test in. You should take note that when you start a task, you should do ONLY that task for the time you’ve allotted yourself. This is a surefire way to focus and get it done.

Stress Tip #3: Go to Bed!

Getting enough sleep is honestly the most important thing when it comes to doing well on your finals. Sleep is vital to survival and it helps the nervous system function properly. Studies reveal that when animals and people fail to get enough sleep concentration, coordination, memory, and mood suffer. You should aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When you get enough sleep, not only do you need less coffee, but you also will do better on your exams. Studies have also shown that getting a full eight hours of sleep after learning a new task, such as a finger-tapping exercise or after studying a long list of words can boost recall the next day. Even a one-hour nap can improve performance on certain tasks, so if an all-nighter is mandatory, try to fit in a nap.

Stress Tip #4: Turn Off Social Media

All Millennials know that social media websites and apps like Facebook (appropriately titled Face Crack by my mom) and Twitter, will suck your soul and your free time away from you. Not only that, but if you get distracted checking a notification during the time that you’re supposed to be studying, the whole afternoon is lost. You might start off the day reviewing your Calculus I notes, but by the end of the hour, you’re watching the Top 20 Cutest Cats Falling off Tables. How you migrated from Instagram to Youtube without a direct link….no one knows. Do yourself a favor and turn off your phone (or at least the notifications to all distracting apps) and if you have access to “Parental Controls” (all MacBook users do), then get your study buddy (or parent) to set some limits for you. Also, cancel your Netflix subscription for the month. Use that money to buy a stress ball.

Stress Tip #5: Eat Nutritious Food (a.k.a. Not refined shugah)

Healthy Food = Healthy Brain. Make sure to eat plenty of foods that are high in nutrients and low in processed crap. Food is considered medicine in a lot of cultures! So, yes, you can really eat your way to health, but you have to stay away from “death in a plastic wrapper”. You know the deal. That means lots of greens, raw fruits and veggies, healthy fats (like nuts and seeds), whole grains, and lean meats. There will be more info on this topic in another blog post, so stay tuned!

Stress Tip #6: Take a Break!

Sometimes, all you need is to just close your books, go outside, and take a break. College finals stress is one of those tricky things, where you feel like you’ll only get rid of it once you complete the task that is stressing you out in the first place. However, that isn’t always the case. If stress is the thing that is keeping you from finishing the stressful task, it always helps to stop what you’re doing and take a break. This can be anything from taking a nap, to going outside and tossing a football around (or, if you can’t throw – lying in the sun.) All of these things will shift your focus out of that internal hole for doom that you put yourself into, and give you some perspective. Often times, I do this when I get the infamous “Writer’s Block.” It’s inevitable, and won’t go away until you close your computer and distract yourself with a different activity. Often times, once you’ve immersed yourself in something else, inspiration strikes!

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