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Finals – every college student's least favorite time of year. You stop sleeping, you stop showering, and your social life completely flies out the window, right? Wrong! Actually, taking care of yourself and reducing stress during finals is one of the best ways to make sure you'll do well – and get through the process one piece. Here are my top ten tips for how to stay calm during finals season.
Stay calm during finals by…
10. Having an effective study strategy
You wouldn't go into war without a battle plan, so don't go into finals without a study strategy. Planning exactly what you're going to review and when is so helpful in keeping you accountable, making your study habits effective, and making sure you don't stress too much. To find out how, check out this post I wrote on making a strategy for finals!
9. Making “off” time – and letting “off” hours stay “off” hours
Just as important as making time to study is making time to relax. It's been proven that taking a break from working helps improve concentration and sustain energy. You're at your best when you make time to have fun, spend time with friends, and live a balanced life. Schedule some time every day to relax and take a mental break. You'll return to your work refreshed and better-able to focus.
8. Sleeping enough
Sleep is so important. While pulling an all-nighter may seem like the perfect way to finish a paper on time, skipping a night of sleep actually makes it harder to concentrate, multitask, and remember information. In fact, sleep is known to consolidate memory – so skip the all-nighter and keep sleeping your normal hours. It will help you feel calmer, remember more, and do better on your exams.
During your “off” hours, try to spend some time with a few friends – and laugh! Laughter boosts your endorphins and even curbs stress hormones, making it a great way to keep stress at bay when you need a break.
6. Not abusing caffeine
Drinking too much caffeine can lead to headaches, upset stomach, and increased anxiety – not what you want during finals season! Instead of abusing your favorite caffeinated drinks to stay up late or focus, try for just one pick-me-up caffeinated drink throughout the day as a reward or incentive for hard work.
5. Continuing self-care
Just like you deserve care every other day, you deserve care during finals season, which is one of the most stressful times of year! When you're studying, take breaks to maintain self-care basics like showering, doing laundry, and even working out. Doing these things will make finals season feel more like another phase of life, rather than a drop-everything study marathon.
Technology can be a great study aid, but it can also be a distraction and a stressor. Unless you're using your phone as a study tool, turn it off during your study time. Not seeing your social media, messages, and texts for a few hours will help you focus on your studies, and make you feel less like you're missing out on “the real world” while you're stuck in a library.
3. Taking a walk
One of the best ways to clear your mind is simple: take a walk. Walking regularly can help you improve blood pressure, and get mood-boosting endorphins. Every once in a while when studying, take a short walk, breathe in some fresh air, and put exams out of your mind. When you return to your work, you'll be refreshed and better-able to focus.
2. Breathing deeply
If things start feeling too hectic and you need to take a breather, do just that – breathe. Deep breathing can reduce tension and anxiety during periods of stress. There are plenty of websites and YouTube videos featuring guided meditation and deep breathing – just search “deep breathing exercises” online.
1. Keeping perspective
If you start to feel like it's all too much, try to adjust your perspective. This is just a few days or weeks of your life. Sure, finals are important – but they aren't the most important thing you'll ever do! This, too, shall pass.