We’ve all been there. With the threat of finals looming on the horizon, the knee-jerk instinct is to barricade ourselves in a study space–our room, the library, your favorite table at Hansa–and cram in a couple of long nights of studying. Everything else takes a back seat to our study guides and review packets–meals are infrequent at best, sleep is an unattainable goal, and it seems impossible to curb the ever-rising anxiety levels. It’s easy to get caught up in the frenetic energy that surrounds finals week. However, if the past three years of finals have taught me anything, that frame of mind doesn’t help anyone. You see, what often happens is that we run ourselves into the ground trying to fit a whole semester’s worth of content into our brains over the course of a long weekend, and then are sleep-deprived, stuffy-nosed, and miserable during finals week. Here’s a few tips to staying healthy during finals week–or, if you’re like me, being productive in spite of the finals flu.
- Go to bed. Seriously. Whatever unit you think you’re going to review at 2 in the morning is not going to stick. You will be so much worse off in the morning after pulling an all-nighter that the little bit of extra review you get from staying up late is not worth it. The week before finals, I try to go to bed earlier rather than later. Shooting for a 10:30 bedtime–at the very latest, 12:00. Obviously, sports and various commitments can push back that time, but the extra sleep can only benefit you in the long run. If the stress of finals is keeping you up at night, drinking some chamomile tea with lemon and honey, or, if you’re really having trouble, taking some melatonin can help you catch some much-needed ZZZ’s.
- Eat real food. It might seem like a time-saving move to bring a bag of Skinny Pop and LaCroix with you up to your room so you can eat while you study, but again, it’s doing you more harm than good. Making sure you eat more than snack food, and limit the amount of caffeinated drinks, is key to getting your best studying in. Eat real fruits and veggies (blueberries help with stress!) and drink lots of water. If you do get sick, the citrus defender tea from Starbucks is a favorite of mine!
- Keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, it’s one test. A year from now that test will be a faded memory, and will be totally inconsequential five years later. It’s not worth sacrificing your mental health and well-being.
- Know your limits. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. If you’ve got three finals on one day, talk to your teachers (sooner rather than later!). Keep things as normal as possible. When running a marathon, experts say to try nothing new the day of the race. The same holds true for finals. Do what works for you, and don’t feel pressured to suddenly start pulling all-nighters or chugging energy drinks just because it’s finals week.
- Take lots of short study breaks–AWAY from your phone. This is key. You have to give your mind a rest every once in a while. Try using breaks to motivate yourself when reviewing: if you just get through one more chapter of APUSH, you get to take a break. What you do during that break is just as important. Do not go on your phone. It might be tempting to check social media or watch the next episode of your latest Netflix binge, but some time away from your screen will be much more beneficial. If you can stand the cold, go outside and take a walk, or take a quick coffee break with friends. At the end of the day, there’s nothing a good old-fashioned Hansa muffin can’t fix.
While this next week might seem intolerably stressful, at the end of the day, you will get through it.