How to Keep Your Cool During Finals Week

It’s finals week and students are buckling down and hitting the books.  This week is incredibly stressful for many students, and oftentimes, they neglect to care for their well-being.  Understandably so, studying might seem to be the quintessence of importance during this week, however, it is just as vital to nurture the body and mind in these turbulent times.  Here are a couple of tips to help you survive finals week unscathed:

1. Stick to Your Guns

Whether you use a wall calendar, desk calendar or smartphone, create a physical schedule and stick to it.  Make a notation in the calendar of your choice on the exact dates and times of your exams so that you have ample time to study for it.  

Many of us, throughout our university studies, have made the mistake of pulling the dreadful “all-nighter.”  But to what end? Psychologist Tom Stafford examines, in BBC Health, why memory often fails when cramming, stating that, “cramming has left a lingering glow of activity in our sensory and memory systems, a glow that allows our brain to swiftly tag our study notes as ‘something that I've seen before.’ But being able to recognize something isn't the same as being able to recall it.”

Therefore, time management is key when creating your study calendar.  Be aware of how much remaining time you have before the exam day and allot a specific number of hours a day to each subject.

2. Focus

Focusing may prove difficult, overwhelming, and even a bit tedious when it comes to exam week.  You can simplify your life this week by cutting out distractions. This may seem the prime time to attempt a recipe you’ve been meaning to bake for ages, or brush the dust off of your ukulele, but it is important to overcome temptation and focus your attention to your goals.

If you find that your computer or smartphone are your main distractions, simply lock them up during your scheduled study time.  With nothing to divert your attention away, you’ll find it much easier to retain the information that you are studying.

3. An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The old adage might not be necessarily true, but there is something to be said about healthy eating.  Be sure to eat balanced meals throughout the day and energizing snacks, like bananas or almonds, if you’re feeling fatigued.

If you are unfamiliar with superfoods, they are foods that, essentially, consist of important vitamins and antioxidants. WebMD argues that beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea (green or black), tomatoes, turkey, walnut, and yogurt are the top superfoods offering health protection.  Though you may not have the time to whip up a turkey dinner, try substituting a bag of chips for fresh blueberries for a healthy snack.

4. Hit the gym

During the course of this week, you’ll find yourself sitting or lying often while studying.  It is important to carve out the time to exercise.  Physical exercise is commonly known to improve mood, boost energy, and help you to work more efficiently.  Exercise is generally overlooked during exam week because students don’t feel that they have enough time.  The benefits of a healthy muscular and cardiovascular system outweigh the time constraints, especially if you’re planning on spending long nights nose-deep in textbooks.  As an added bonus, you’ll look great and feel healthy once exams are over and school is out for the summer.

5. Catch some zzzz’s

If you are tired, go to sleep.  It will often seem like there is so much more to study and so little time.  However, if you are sleep deprived, your study time is without purpose. It is proven that sleep improves memory and consolidates the information you’ve learned prior to bedtime, much like defragmenting a hard drive.  Furthermore, sleep stimulates clearer thinking.  Dr. Jodi A. Mindell, professor of psychology at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and author of Sleep Deprived No More says that, “Sleep loss affects how you think.  It can impair your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making.”


So, there you have it.  These upcoming weeks, try to be focused, well-rested, motivated, and above all, stay healthy.  Good luck!

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