Let's be honest, finals is stressing us all out. Many of us are on the brink of an emotional breakdown from the stress already and those who aren't probably will be soon. Finals is way worse than anyone could have prepared for, but we will all get through it. It will be two weeks of complete hell, but you got this. Here's a few reminders to help you maintain your sanity in a time of pure stress.
1. "Doing your best" does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown
You can only do so much studying before your brain is full. You eventually hit a point where staying in the library for another hour won't be beneficial, it will be detrimental. "Doing your best" is trying your hardest, nowhere does it say that doing your best should mean sacrificing your sanity or wellbeing. If you feel like you cannot do any more work, then be done for the day; overworking yourself is just as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes.
2. Try not to compare yourself to those around you
Yes, the person sitting next to you might have gotten an A on their paper, but if you got a B or a C or even a D, that's okay. Grades are measured in letters or numbers, but remember that it's all about how far you've come and how hard you tried. If you tried your hardest and the best you could get was a C, be proud of that C--you worked hard for it. Comparing yourself to your peers will only inflict more stress on yourself because everyone is different.
3. You can start over next semester
One bad test won't ruin your life; one bad course won't ruin your life; one bad semester won't ruin your life. There's always next semester to do better. Ten years down the road, the grade you got in Philosophy 1000 will most likely mean nothing. Learn from your mistakes this semester and know what to do better next semester.
4. Your self worth does not depend on what others think and say about you
A professor might think you are stupid because you do bad on a test, your classmates might think you are slacking if you appear to not be paying attention in class; what they think does not matter. Don't let someone get in your head if they criticize you for whatever grade you got or how many classes you are taking. You are not defined by their opinion of you.
5. If you struggle with a mental illness and you relapse in some way during finals season, it does not diminish the progress you have made
Finals season is added stress for everyone, but particularly people who struggle with a mental illness tend to feel the stress more intensely. Relapsing at anytime is normal, mental illnesses are a lifetime struggle, but people are more prone to them during times of high stress. Remember that one step back is nothing compared to all the progress you have already made.
6. School does not come first; your wellbeing does
Often times we are told that "school comes first" or "school is your only job" by parents, professors, etc. This is not true. Your wellbeing comes first and you have more than one job, one of them being to take care of yourself. Put yourself first, even before school work. Yes, your education is for you and it betters you as a person, but sacrificing your health is not worth anything.
7. Asking for help does not make you weak
If you can't come up with an idea for a paper, go to the writing center. If you are confused about a topic, go to your professor's office hours. If you're struggling mentally, go to the counseling center. There is no shame in needing help in any aspect of your life. There is a reason they provide all these resources.
8. If you're tired, go to sleep
There's nothing more important than getting a good night's sleep. Sleep impacts everything: your appetite, mental functioning, performance in school, etc. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to get sick which none of us can afford during finals.
9. Your parents might not always understand and that's okay
They might ask why you got a C, why you did not try harder, why you did not do better, etc. But if that is your best and you are happy with it, then that is all that matters. College has changed since our parents went to college, and if they did not go then it makes it even harder for them to understand how difficult it can be. Parents just do not get it sometimes, and while that can be difficult, it is okay.
10. You success is not relative to the success of those around you
If you get a B on a test and someone else gets an A, that does not make them better than you or even necessarily smarter than you. Maybe last time, you got a D on the test and this is drastic improvement for you. That is success. It is not diminished because someone else got a higher grade.
11. Small victories are still victories
Take tasks one at a time. Even if it is just finishing one question in a review packet, it's more than you had done before. Small accomplishments eventually build up to a big one. Take it in strides.
12. You will get through this
Finals will end eventually. You will get through all the tests and papers. You have survived 100% of your worst days so far. You got this.
13. It's okay to cry when it is over.
You gotta get yourself through finals, but once they are over, all bets are off. That head cold that you've felt coming on for weeks? Let it contaminate you. The crying that you've only let slip out a little? Let it all out; sob like a baby. Have an emotional breakdown; let yourself feel everything you've held bottled up during finals. You worked hard; you deserve to let yourself feel.