Finals week, an “absolutely horrendous week where you and your friends hole up in the library to make up for the ridiculous amount of slackin’ you’ve ever done over the course of the semester,” says Urban Dictionary. It’s a week when students are running on no sleep and caffeine to keep them somewhat functional. During this time, students struggle to reduce stress levels caused by exams, projects, and presentations.
Many of the ways we attempt to deal with this stress ends up putting additional strain on our mind and body. This semester, try to take care of yourself by applying some of these tips to your studying routine.
If you’re feeling stressed over assignments and exams, try taking short exercise breaks of 15-30 minutes. This could include doing yoga, walking around campus, or going to the wellness center to lift weights or run on a treadmill.
“Exercise helps you focus, it gives you additional energy, and it releases endorphins to make you feel better,” says HuffPost. In addition to exercise being a stress-reducing activity, it can also help with overall mental well-being.
If you’re unable to make it to the gym or an instructional class, it’s recommended to at least do some movement, which could include stretching. For example, include 2-5 minutes of stretch breaks in between your studies to keep you alert.
Keep a Balanced Diet
While keeping a healthy diet is one of the hardest tasks for us broke college students, eating something simple, such as fruit or a salad, may be extremely beneficial for mental health during finals week. Certain foods contain vitamins that are able to reduce stress levels. Vitamin B and C are two examples proven to reduce stress hormones, says the Daily Collegian.
During this week, you should cut down on caffeine. According to Mental Health America, studies show caffeine can boost mood, concentration, and even short-term memory. However, more than 400 milligrams, or about 4 cups of coffee, a day can cause jitters, anxiety and disrupts sleep.
If you do consume caffeine, have it in the morning or early afternoon in order to avoid disrupting your sleep schedule. So, you don’t need to avoid your favorite Starbucks specialty drink, but make sure to enjoy it in moderation.
Taking intermittent breaks while studying will help your brain retain important information. HuffPost states that “studies show in order to really grasp information the brain needs time to absorb what it has learned.”
Scheduling regular breaks are just as important as sleep. Make sure to plan out pauses within your studying to participate in other activities. During breaks, you can go for a walk, listen to music, exercise, or do anything to take your mind off your study material.
These breaks will help recharge your brain, lower anxiety, and prevent burn out. Not only make sure to take these breaks for learning purposes, but also reward yourself for getting hard work done.
Unplug from Social Media
We have all found ourselves in the rabbit hole of social media, when you spend far too much time scrolling through your newsfeed daily. While this may seem like an entertaining way to distract yourself from all other responsibilities, this instead could actually add to your stress levels.
Social media has become not only a distraction but also an outlet where people compare their lives to others. When studying for finals, try to avoid looking at social media because it will only result in loss of productivity and increased stress levels.
Reduce Stress with Sleep
With so much material and such little time as a result of other responsibilities, we all have to pull a few all-nighters to cram information into our brains.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is an absolute must for students. Rest helps the mind and body perform better while improving concentration and energy levels. To ensure a better quality of sleep, avoid electronics before going to bed. This is recommended as it suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, which is a key hormone that regulates sleep.
As a fellow college student, I can empathize with sleep not seeming possible with such an influx of assignments. If you feel sleep-deprived, taking a quick nap is a great way to recharge your energy and awareness.
We all have to remember to take care of ourselves during these stressful times. With the pressure to succeed and receive a passing grade, it’s easy to forget to prioritize your mental and physical health. You must make sure to treat your body and mind with kindness as this semester comes to a close.
If you’re interested in other ways to stay sane during finals week, here is a guide to minimizing stress.