It’s the most horrible time of the year!
Finals week. AKA hell week. AKA “what’s the lowest grade I can get on this test” week. Aka “you got any more of them extra credit points left?” week. AKA stress week.
I’m gonna be honest here, finals week is supposed to be stressful. Being stressed is an indicator that you actually care about doing your best. Having stressful classes means you’re learning something useful and you’re not paying thousands of dollars to color or watch movies.
So no, I’m not gonna say you shouldn’t stress. But there are ways to get through finals week without drowning in anxiety. Here are a few ways you can take care of your health during finals week.
1. Stock up on snacks
You’re not going to a have that much time for constantly leaving your room to grab a snack. And you don’t want to study on an empty stomach. Might as well take the L.
On the weekend before finals week, go to your local grocery store on campus and grab some healthy, convenient snacks that make you chew.
- Apples and peanut butter are a great source of protein and carbs to help keep your brain alert and energized.
- Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola or nuts work well too (read the label and be cautious of the sugar content, though).
- Cheese sticks are quick, protein-dense, cheap, and not as messy as a fruit.
- Protein bars—my favorites are thinkThin and Cliff Bars!
- Trail mix
- Nut mix
- Popcorn (be careful on the salt and butter)
You want to find things that’ll help keep you awake and that you enjoy but don’t have 30 cups of sugar or salt in it.
2. Call your parents during your study breaks
When’s the last time you called your parents and didn’t ask for money? I can’t even answer this question truthfully.
If your parents are like my parents, they might have encouraged you to go to college and are paying heaps of cash to support you. Why not call them to let them know you’re about to be one step closer to graduating?
My parents and I don’t get that much time to talk, but whenever there’s a big test like a cumulative psychology final, I’m calling my parents. No, they can’t help me study, but having them tell me that they’re proud of what I’ve done so far and to keep pushing really calms my nerves down.
3. Wake up a liiiiittle bit earlier to do some last-minute reviewing
It doesn’t matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl. Mornings will always be quieter and a better time to study during finals week. Treat yourself to a warm shower when waking up, get some water and natural sugars in your system, and hit the notes.
During the morning of the exam, I like to review complex things like diagrams. I would either look over them and recite where everything is or draw them myself.
But CAUTION: This doesn’t mean go to bed at 2 AM and wake up at 5. Please get some sleep. If you don’t already know what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep, here’s a summary:
- You get more prone to illness, and who wants to get sick during finals week
- Your memorization skills are garbage (REM sleep plays a huge role in creating memories, remember?
- And not to mention, you just might FALL ASLEEP during the exam!
4. Take naps
There’s gonna be times when you’re just too exhausted to do anything but go to sleep. Yet, you can’t sleep because your GPA is on the line.
First, take a power nap. The Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30-minute nap for short-term alertness. Even Thomas Edison, a man that worked 18 hours a day, liked to nap. He even had a special chair he napped in.
A couple of things I do to fall asleep quickly is listen to rain sounds or this channel on Youtube called RelaxDaily. It’s run by a musician who makes soothing, new-age sounds that can peacefully rock any one to sleep.
5. If you’ve tried napping and still feel groggy, head for the caffeine...in moderation
I’m not much of a coffee drinker because it doesn’t keep me up that well.
But you might not feel the same way. Just make sure when you’re downing coffee, for every cup you drink, take in another cup of water. Water also has a few properties that help with keeping you up and alert. Water helps oxygen get to the brain, giving your brain the nutrients it needs to stay up and running.
I’ve heard people drink the coldest water to help them stay up, but have you ever tried just drinking hot water? If your library is as cold as mine, switch things up and drink warmer water. You’ll get the same body-warming sensation from coffee without the caffeine.
6. Don't party too hard
Last week, I celebrated my first Dead Day partying. Safe to say I’m never doing that again.
Dead Day is fun because you don’t have any classes. So the night before, you can party/puke all night and sleep all morning!
But if you have multiple cumulative finals and papers to study for, you don’t want to waste any free days. It’s okay to take a break and reward yourself while you study, but save the big celebrations for after you don’t have 7 more biochemistry chapters to review.
If you do plan on going out, play it safe. Grab your friends but before making plans to head out, make a plan for coming back in on time and alert. Limit yourself to only a couple shots throughout the night so you don’t have to deal with a mind-numbing hangover in the AM.
If your university gives you a day off during finals week to recuperate and study, then study!
Finals week doesn’t have to mean the destruction of your immune system. The more prepared you are for your tests, the more focused you will be while studying, and the less likely you’ll resort to unhealthy, desperate measures. Let’s make it out of college with great GPAs and even better health.
Blossom the Creativist is a college, health and wellness blogger with a passion for chocolate milk and social media shenanigans. When she’s not squatting at the gym, she is creating mental health-based articles for college students, making funny Youtube videos or choreographing afropop dances. You can find her on twitter @blossomandblog, instagram @blossomthecreativist, and her Youtube channel.