As we all put our books and pencils away for the well-deserved Thanksgiving Break, it is still important to start thinking about the end of the semester and what we need to do to prepare. Finals can be an extremely stressful time for students; balancing exams, final projects and papers, and even graduate school applications. Everything seems to be due at the same time – how do we mentally, physically, and emotionally cope with all this stress?
- Stay healthy. Nothing could make the situation worse than getting sick. Make time for three meals a day and load up on the fruits and veggies. Studies have shown that eating an apple at the beginning of a study session can give you the same amount of energy a cup of caffeinated coffee does – without the crash at the end. Get your heart rate up and take a quick hike up Horsebarn Hill; exercise works like magic for reducing stress, and you definitely can’t beat that view.
- Get sleep. Sleep deprivation causes severe drops in exam performance, regardless of how much you studied during your all-nighter. Studies also show that full night’s sleep with complete REM cycles help your brain reorganize information that you’ve learned throughout the day. Get a full eight hours of sleep every night during finals week, and in the weeks leading up to it. It will leave you with more energy and make those study sessions more effective.
- Get organized. Starting now, make a list of every exam you have and the date it occurs. One day at a time, prioritize which tests you will study for on which days, for how long. This process should begin during Thanksgiving break, so that you can study for a few hours each day during the last week of classes. Instead of cramming at the end, this new schedule will help you retain more information for your upcoming exams.
- De-Stress. No matter how much you plan ahead, finals are still going to be a stressful experience. It is up to you to take care of your mental health and stop the stress from becoming toxic. Sleep, exercise, and eating healthy will help but an overwhelming amount of studying is not good for the brain. Take a few hours each week to do something meaningful to you – catch a movie with friends, meditate, go shopping, or read a book (of your own choice, not for class!).
While these tips are great for acing your finals, they are also applicable to other “busy times” of your life. Juggling the new job or the intense internship can get as stressful as finals week, and remembering to stay healthy, get sleep, stay organized, and de-stress can help you do your best and get the most out of your experience. Most jobs have at least one busy season, so employing these strategies during those times will help you power through successfully.
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