Whether this is your first or fourth finals week in college, stress is a common denominator in every student’s experience. Be prepared to face your finals with these de-stressing do’s and don’ts in your back pocket!
Use your grounding exercises. For those of us who are especially anxiety-prone, grounding exercises are important to practice. Whenever you start to feel yourself spiraling too deep into your head, take a step back and ground yourself using sensory items. Diffuse oils, describe aloud the physical properties of the nearest tangible objects, or take a break to listen to your favorite song. Breathe and take your time — there’s no use pushing through writing that paper if your mind feels too scrambled to put words on the page.
Avoid isolation. Even if you’re an introvert or prefer to study all by yourself in a quiet environment, come out every once and awhile to see your friends — even if it’s just a brief interaction. Remembering you are surrounded by people who care can take you out of your “study bubble” and place you back into the bigger picture. Then you can return to your nook at the back of the library and start afresh, by yourself or with a buddy.
Pay attention to stress signals in your body. As you study — or even during your exams — be mindful of your physical posture. Take time every half hour or so to unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, or roll your neck. Before or after an intense academic session, blow off your extra steam through exercise — hit the KSAC or run around the loop. Then, if you want, keep going, following the horizon. Don’t stop.
Skip meals. You can and should take at least 30 minutes out of your day to eat something. Fuel up your brain and don’t give into the temptation to trade sustenance for study time — just think, do you really want to be that kid at the library or the exam whose stomach can be heard from the other side of the room? Stressful.
Pull all-nighters. All-nighters are seldom worth it. Sleep is essential for academic success and you’re much more likely to be productive when you’re rested than when your eyes are burning at 4 a.m. while the words are swimming on the page. Sleep is a great stress reliever and will leave you ready to try again — and even five hours of sleep is better than none.
Let your grades define you. Few things are more stressful than the crippling misconception that your Bib Lit final grade is going to inevitably set the tone for the rest of your academic career. Pursue excellence, not perfection, and let grace triumph over the stress that comes with perfectionism. Good study habits paired with prayer go a long way, but if you do happen to do poorly on a project, paper or exam, it’s not the end of the world. Honor your efforts if you did the best you could or resolve to do better next time.
If all else fails, visualize yourself going to Silent Night with your floor, eating Christmas cookies at the after party and then celebrating the holidays with loved ones. You’re almost there — finish strong!