It’s not easy to stay sane during finals week. It’s bad enough to have to study for a cumulative final exam, finish projects and write papers. So how to do you stay sane while managing it all and make good grades? Here are some tips from someone who’s been there.
Just thinking about all that work is enough to make you stress out. It’s understandable! It can seem like everything starts to pile up at the exact same time, and the to-do list just doesn’t seem to get shorter. Here’s how to keep your mind alert and sane this week:
Stay Sane During Finals Week
- Exercise. I know, with so little time, it seems almost counter-intuitive, but exercising can help you in so many ways. Even if you can’t hit the gym, a little exercise is a great way to alleviate stress. Take advantage of your university’s free classes for half an hour or spend a few minutes doing yoga when you first wake up. Go on a walk during a break from the books. Just get moving for a few minutes. Trust me, it’ll help you breathe, take a step back and relax.
- Stock up on Power Snacks. Take vitamins, drink a lot of water and make sure to eat snacks that relieve anxiety and help you focus. Try not to eat foods high in sodium or order too much take-out. It’s tempting, but it’ll make you feel worse in the long run. Instead, try healthy snacks and meals. You don’t have to cook or waste time planning meals. Look into quinoa bowls, non-sugary smoothies, and meals with high protein. Don’t forget your fruits and veggies. Bring bananas, almonds and other power foods to snack on between meals. Don’t skip meals. Your brain suffers when you go hours without eating, and you need your brain to be as powerful as possible. Snacks will keep you focused and feeling more confident. If eating healthy is too hard, try to drink more water. Just a few extra cups a day can help you stay hydrated, helping you focus.
- Rest. Sure, you can pull all-nighters, but they aren’t doing anything to help you. Your mind won’t be working at 100%, and the next day your work will suffer when you’re groggy. Instead, work until a specific time, like 9 or 10 pm. Give yourself time to relax and try to get to sleep early so you can wake up alert and ready to study. Make sure you have at least 7 hours of sleep. If you can get 8 or 9, better, but make sure you have at least 7 hours. That way, you wake up refreshed, rested and ready. If you don’t sleep, you won’t be able to retain information, concentrate or form your best arguments. Lack of sleep will also make you prone to stressing out over smaller things and feeling anxious. Plus, when you don’t rest, you’re more likely to rely on caffeine for energy, which raises your stress and anxiety. Instead of an energy drink or a large coffee, maybe drink a hot chocolate or tea. Coffee places like Starbucks have small levels of caffeine in their teas and hot chocolates without stressing your system like that Venti Americano.
- Go all out on the To-Do list. Do you do better by adding every task on a sticky note on your wall and pulling them down as they get done? Clear out a wall in your room and use colorful sticky notes. Alternatively, you can put up chalkboards, dry-erase boards or pinboards on your wall. Anything that will be colorful, in your face and easy to see. Use your phone to add your to-do list to your Google calendar or get a pocket calendar to keep yourself organized. Don’t forget to use colorful pens! Studies show we pay more attention to colored pens and markers than to a regular black pen. Plan your schedule ahead of time. Make sure to give yourself time for breaks and always find rewards when you get a specific number of tasks complete. Don’t wait to the last minute and set realistic time for you to complete your tasks. Write down allocated time for exactly what you plan to accomplish. It might sound like this will make you more stressed, but before you know it, the tasks will start getting scratched out, and you’ll keep your sanity.
- Schedule in your ME Time. I’ve said it before, but spending time on yourself is vital. Schedule in your five minute me-time. Meditate or do something that calms you down. Give yourself time to watch one episode of a show you like, go watch a movie, or eat a healthy dinner with friends. Make sure these breaks aren’t too long, but make time to sprinkle them in throughout your day. Go for a walk. The outdoors do wonders when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take your lunch and eat it a park bench. My university had a meditation garden set aside on campus for decompressing. They had park benches and seats scattered across flowers, trees and a few mini waterfalls. Even if you get a few minutes to sit outside and eat in peace, it’ll clear your mind for the rest of your to-do list.
- Back up your work. Invest in a backup drive, a USB or download DropBox. That way, as you save all your work on desktop or a folder, you also save it to a second location for backup. Technology sometimes fails you, and the worst time for that to happen is during finals week. Stay prepared for the worst.
- Get a massage. Many universities, aside from offering areas to meditate, all-night study buildings and 24-hour snacks on campus during finals, offer massages. Take advantage of these inexpensive massages and maybe some of their specials when you’re feeling really overwhelmed. Some universities offer free 10 minute massages during finals week. Check to see if you university offers any of these! They’re definitely worth it. If not, go to your local nail salon or look for a chair massage place near campus (sometimes they offer student discounts), 10 minutes for less than 10 bucks is totally worth it!
Good luck out there this finals week!