Finals Survival Guide: How To Take Care Of Yourself During Finals Season
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Finals Survival Guide: How To Take Care Of Yourself During Finals Season

16+ tips to not just survive, but thrive through finals.

Finals Survival Guide: How To Take Care Of Yourself During Finals Season

Just like the seasons come and pass, so do finals. It's funny how at the end of every semester, suddenly school seems to consume me once again and before I know it I'm writing another listicle on having an existential crisis as I plan my classes for the next semester or finding a video on FaceBook of a child/puppy being cute to make me feel better (I recommend this one if you were just about to go look). I always wonder what my finals would look like if I were as productive as I am during these two weeks, the whole semester, and then I remember I would be miserable and probably turn into an actual potato from being so unhealthy.

I can tell you right now, this article has no revelations. No secret magic tricks to make you ace your finals or make the weeks go by faster. But I can tell you as someone who is now going through her third round of finals that you are smart and capable and eventually you will get through them. If you're lucky like me, you might even have an easier second week and a really nice finals schedule with just enough time to procrastinate studying a little by writing an article.

If you're feeling overwhelmed like I did many a time my freshman year, remember to take a break. There are lots of opportunities here at Vanderbilt during dead week to see your favorite a cappella group put on a Christmas show, take advantage of the free hot chocolate being served 24/7 on Rand Wall, or paint canvases with your favorite feminist group on campus. If your university doesn't have as many student run study breaks available, or you just can't risk losing your spot in the library, here are a bunch of other fun and quick things you can do to take care of yourself during finals season.

1. Play Christmas music.

Or play any type of music that will get you pumped up while studying and take a dance break.

2. Plan ahead before dead week and make a study schedule.

I try to at least put my finals schedule in my calendar on my laptop during Thanksgiving Break, so I'm not as violently rammed in the face with work once finals week swings around quick.

3. Prioritize.

When you inevitably fail to follow your study plan as closely as you wanted (if you're anything like me), prioritize based off of which classes are worth working harder for a certain grade. Make sure you don't get carried away however -- if calculating your grades every five minutes online is just going to make you more stressed out, DON'T do it.

4. Listen to a guided meditation or mindfulness video/recording.

Just listen for ten minutes to let your brain breathe. There are hundreds of videos available on YouTube, or if you want something on your phone, I'd totally recommend the Headspace app.

5. Write a love letter to yourself.

This sounds cheesy, but trust me, this is a great way to remember you're more than numbers on a page and you have strengths and talents worth fighting for. Plus you won't need anyone else to validate you! (Everyone else will most likely be off stressing out about their own lives anyway.)

6. Treat yo'self to dessert.

Now I'm not suggesting binge eating a whole tub of ice cream, but I'm not going to lie and say treating yourself to dessert after a long day of work is not a form of motivation for me at times. If you're vegan, go to Vanderbilt, and have plenty of meal money to spend, Grins has been whipping out some bomb desserts lately.

7. Focus on long-term success.

If you're worried about failing a class or not being able to finish a paper, first just take a slow, deep breath (or ten). It's important at these moments to keep your long-term success in mind. You can't control everything, so just try to do your best and get through the rough time so that you can move forward and plan your next step, because I promise you there is always another path to success even if it doesn't exactly match the four-year plan you had in mind.

8. Take a deep breath.

Like I mentioned before, deep breathing always helps me get reconnected with my body instead of my mind which may just be spiraling anxiously. If you're feeling overwhelmed, try the 4-7-8 technique -- breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.

9. Avoid distractions.

Whether that be social media, texts, or any drama occurring with your friends. Remember that while you should definitely be there for your friends especially in times of stress like these, if you are surrounded by negativity all the time it won't be mentally healthy or motivating for you. So if you're starting to feel that negative energy soak into your own mindset, remember it's okay to distance yourself for a while. It's a privilege to be at college and the reason you're here in the first place is to get an education that will hopefully help you make an even larger impact in the future.

10. Take a walk outside.

Whether that just be the walk from the library to the cafeteria or your dorm to grab food, there's nothing more refreshing than the cold, winter air to keep you awake.

11. Take a short nap.

Honestly sometimes you just need to do it so you can come back full force with a clear mind, but be careful not to go over 30 minutes, and if you do it's best to then not interrupt your REM cycle and sleep anywhere from 70-100 minutes so you wake up naturally and are refreshed instead of groggy.

12. Use the timer technique.

When I really feel like I can't focus, I like to set the stopwatch on my phone to 25 minutes of study time. The feeling of having a timer on usually keeps me motivated enough if I know I'll be able to take a five minute break afterwards and by the time my phone goes off I'm usually already in the groove of whatever I'm doing and don't actually need to take a break. If you don't feel motivated during the next 25 minutes, switch up the subject you're studying so you'll still be productive. (Procrastinating homework by doing other homework is a real thing.)

13. Inspirational Quotes.

What would an article by me really be without the mention of a quote off Pinterest? Whatever words you find inspiring, keep them close by and visible, for you to glance back on every once and a while to keep that positive inner dialogue going. I personally really like the Momentum Google Chrome Extension because I'm usually always on my laptop anyways so I know I'll see the daily inspirational quote and my goal for the day set against the backdrop of a relaxing picture of nature often.

14. Use the RAIN technique.

If you couldn't tell, I'm slightly obsessed with mindfulness, and there's good reason. I can tell you first hand it has if not singlehandedly, then has been a large factor in helping me overcome my depression and those moments where I feel overwhelmed or down on myself. Here's a great article explaining RAIN by the inventor of the technique herself if you've never heard of it.

15. Give a friend a hug.

Sometimes all we need to know is there are people who love and support us in a tangible form. Whenever you show compassion towards others, you also benefit from that warm, fuzzy feeling you are passing on.

16. Take a 20 minute break.

Last but not least, don't underestimate the power of a 20 minute break to completely turn around your mood and improve your productivity afterwards. Don't know what to do? Here's a list of just a couple things you can do to destress and take your mind off work:

-- Put on some relaxing music and take a long shower.

-- Talk to friends (sometimes this can backfire, so feel it out in case they just end up making your more stressed).

-- Color! Adult coloring books are all the rage now, didn't you know?

-- Watch some Netflix/YouTube (this can easily spiral so try a 20 minute episode or keep a cap on 3 videos).

-- Journal it out (yay feelings!).

-- Read recreationally (I recommend You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero for some motivation in living the life you want). This is also a great way to help you fall asleep at night if you're having trouble.

Whatever your preferred motivational or coping techniques are for finals, know that like everything else in life, this too will pass. While it may seem like the end of the world, there are so many greater and bigger things in the world to get riled up about. Not to say your grades don't matter, just don't kill yourself trying to get them. You know yourself better than anyone else, so make sure you are pushing yourself to do and be your best, while also treating yourself right.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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