It's hard to believe that the school year is already coming to a close. It seems like it was only yesterday that we were moving in, cars full of our belongings, and preparing ourselves to tackle the new school year head on. Now we are preparing to leave, and with the end of the year comes final exams. Final exams bring about varying amounts of stress, all of which can seem impossible to deal with. We all know that we should focus on academics at this point in order to perform well on our finals, but it can be difficult to force out thoughts of the impending summer months. This can, unfortunately, trigger higher levels of stress, and we all long for solutions in combating it. There are several things that we should keep in mind leading up to finals, all of which can help us take our finals feeling as confident as possible.

One of the most important things anyone can do is make sure they get enough sleep! While it may seem logical to pull all-nighters leading up to the exam just to learn anything, what your body really needs in order to perform well is a good amount of rest. This might require you to study a little bit at a time because saving all of your studying for the last few days can make stress levels skyrocket. If you study just a few hours every night for at least a week leading up to the exam, you can balance sleep and studying, and enter the test feeling well-rested.

Secondly, try not to rely on highly caffeinated beverages to keep you going. With overwhelming amounts of caffeine, it will be impossible for your body to relax, and enough caffeine could throw off your sleeping schedule. Too much caffeine can also leave you feeling jittery and unable to maintain focus for the time it takes to study or even take the exam. So, stick to your regimented cup of coffee in the morning, and use the vast amounts of sleep you will be getting to carry you through the rest of the day.

You also should remind yourself that it is OK to take breaks while studying. If it ever gets to the point where you are stressing because it seems like you just cannot retain any more information, that is a sign you have been studying for too long. Everyone's attention span is different, but as soon as your focus begins to dwindle, give your mind a rest. Take some time to go outside and get some fresh air, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, and grab a snack! Even taking a quick power nap is not a bad idea. Whatever you decide to do, allow yourself to take a few minutes away from studying in order to reduce stress, and let your brain recharge.

Exercise is a great way to rid yourself of unnecessary stress! While not everyone is a gym junkie, there are many forms of physical activity out there! It is scientifically proven that exercise is one of the greatest ways to clear your mind and relax. This can be something as simple as going for a walk, or taking the dog outside to play. The effects of this are similar to those that come from taking a break, but it is no less important to make a point of it! Personally, I love going for a run when I get overstressed, and I come back feeling incredibly refreshed and ready to hit the books again!

While studying, sort out what you know from what you don't know, and focus more on the things you don't know! Make some flash cards and work through them, and make a pile of the ones that you know really well and feel confident about, and a separate pile for the ones that could use a bit of work. This will allow you to feel more organized while studying, and you can use your time efficiently as well! If you specifically focus on the topics you are not as familiar with, you can really take the time to make sure you nail them! Go over them continuously, and as you become more comfortable with them, work them in with the cards you do know until you can work through all of them in the blink of an eye.

Chew some gum! This is an easy trick that has done wonders for me over the years, and I would highly recommend it. It has been proven that chewing gum while taking a test allows you to think more clearly, and can, therefore, reduce the stress that comes from taking the test. Make sure to keep a pack of your favorite gum on hand while studying in order to improve your focus, and do the same thing during the test! I can personally say that it really does work, as crazy as it sounds! Ever since I discovered this simple trick, I never take a test without a piece of gum! I definitely feel less stressed and more focused while taking the test, and therefore can score better!

I think the most important thing to remember during the test is to breathe and relax! Read through each question carefully, and take some time to think about how to solve each one. Even if you think you do not know the answer, you probably do, and just need to take some time to think about it. Never feel like you have to rush through a test because that can lead to a vast amount of stress. I find it most effective to first work through the problems that you do know, and save an ample amount of time at the end of the test to solve the ones you don't know. By doing this, I'm not wasting too much time at the beginning of the test focusing on what I don't know, and then running out of time to complete problems I do know! So, just sit and breathe, because you do know more than you think you do.

Finally, always keep the end in mind! Think about how good it will feel to finally be done with the exam, and use that positivity to push through the barrier of stress! In this case, your goal would be to finish the test so that you are one step closer to summer vacation, and who is not excited for that?! While the stress levels may unbearable at the time, know that these feelings are only temporary, and you will soon be relaxing all summer! This is a great way to give yourself some encouragement to keep studying hard and do your best, and make sure you achieve your end goal. The sooner you finish the test and do well, the closer summer vacation will seem!

I'm sure there are so many articles out there about how to handle stress when finals roll around, but these are the ways I tend to manage my stress levels! While everyone is different, I am always looking for new remedies for stress reduction because I think it is a great idea to have some variety. Sticking to the same schedule all of the time can be boring, and I love finding new ways to reduce stress! So, keep these things in mind, and I really hope they help. Good luck on finals, don't get too stressed, and just remember, summer is almost here!