Staying stress free during finals week

As the semester begins to wind down, it’s important to take a few precautions to protect your GPA as well as your health. Failing to take care of your mental and physical health during finals, whether it’s not getting enough sleep at night or not taking time to unwind, can decrease your overall performance.

We sat down with Justina Siuba, program coordinator for Stress Management at Student Health Services, for a few tips on how to handle the inevitable pressure of finals week.

“Sometimes, mental health gets a little pushed to the side because we typically focus more on other aspects like physical health,” says Siuba. “We remember our annual physicals and dentist appointments, but we often overlook our mental health. Remembering to take care of that is crucial.”

“The more things you can do upfront regarding responsibilities and obligations, the less you’ll have to deal with when new problems arise. It’s impossible to go through life without some type of stressor, but it’s important to realize what is and what isn’t inside your scope of control.” 

Here are some of Siuba’s tips for staying sane during the last week of the semester.

Tip 1: Be realistic about your goals.

During finals, it's extra important to write down what you hope to accomplish within the week. You should have end goals, but also a strategy to help you reach your goal for each day of studying. An example of an end goal would be to get a B on your final exam. Your strategy would be some way of studying to help you reach that goal. 

Tip 2: Schedule your time wisely.
Make a schedule and give yourself ample time to get enough sleep and take breaks. Remember your goals when making this schedule — each day you should have your strategy in mind as you schedule your time.

Tip 3: Get a good night's sleep.
Your brain is one of the body's most powerful organs and it definitely needs its beauty rest. Besides heading to bed a little earlier, you can help yourself fall into the REM cycle by exercising, creating a regular meal schedule, limiting caffeine, avoiding all-nighters and eliminating noise.

Tip 4: Stay hydrated.
Hydration is very important when it comes to your body's overall health. Keeping your own water bottle at hand at all times will encourage the habit. You can also slice up some lemons or cucumbers to give your water some extra flavor and freshness. Dehydration also makes your hunger pains worse. If you think you're hungry, drink a glass of water and then decide if you are still hungry. 

Tip 5: Give your brain a break.
You may think you need to study for eight hours straight in order to retain all that microbiology or those dates from World War II, but taking breaks allows your mind a quick and quiet reset. Stepping away from studying for 15 minutes every hour will help you increase your test performance. Try taking a walk around Thomas Cooper or calling a friend or family member. Stretching, meditating or taking a shower or quick nap can also help.

Tip 6: Snack away.
Just like staying hydrated, you also need to fuel your brain before and during your study session. Nuts or yogurt will increase your energy, while apples will reduce your chances of anxiety. Blueberries are pure brain food — they improve your memory and numerical ability. Dark chocolate will also increase blood flow to your brain, increasing performance. 


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