Finals week signals the end of weeks worth of students’ hard work and dedication, so it should be a cause for celebration, right? Unfortunately for many students, finals is usually clouded by stress and anxiety. Everyone faces the rigors of stress at one point or another throughout the school year, but finals week is generally the most stressful time for students during the academic year. However, learning ways to manage stress can make finals week far easier. Here are some tips to try this week:
1. Take a time-out from studying to give your brain a break during long cram sessions. Go to the gym or practice yoga to allow your mind to focus on something other than hitting the books; both options are great distractions for the mind, and for the body. Physical activity is very beneficial in burning away any tension or frustration that stress may bring.
2. Count to ten slowly, take deep breaths, or listen to your favorite music. All three practices have calming effects on the body and mind that will allow you to gather your thoughts and distance yourself from your stress.
3. Making sure to get enough sleep and eat well-balanced meals. Sleep and adequate nutrition are necessary for your body and mind to function at its best. Ever heard of the motto “put good in, get good out?” Properly preparing yourself to take on the day’s tasks will make them easier to handle, reducing the level of stress they produce. Learn more about what a healthy and balanced diet consists of here, and check here to find out if you are getting enough sleep, and if not, how to fix it.
4. Don’t spend time worrying about things that are out of your control, like what grade you will get on a test after you have taken it. Worrying about the uncontrollable only adds to whatever stress or anxiety you may already be feeling. Accept that all you can do is give your best effort (perfection doesn’t exist!), and be proud of whatever work you produce.
5. Talk to someone, whether it’s friends and family, or a professional like a physician or therapist. UCLA’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a resource available to all UCLA students. Outside of counseling, engaging socially is the quickest way to reign in stress, as communicating with another person allows one to feel safe and understood, which calms the nervous system.
6. Avoid unnecessary stress. Some causes of stress need to be dealt with in life (e.g. bills, school assignments), but there are ways to diminish the avoidable ones, like pushing yourself too hard or trying to control the outcome of events. Know your limits, because you can only do so much; don’t be afraid to say “no” to something that will be more than you can handle. Avoid people and environments that could trigger your stress.
7. Take care of yourself by making time for fun and relaxation in your everyday life. Write in a journal, spend time in nature, or read a good book. UCLA offers pet therapy during finals, which is just another way to alleviate stress. Nurturing yourself is a necessity that will allow you to be in a better place in life when dealing with stressors.
8. Stay positive. Changing the way you view a situation can change the situation itself, so build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. Instead of saying “I can’t do this” remain positive and say “I will do the best that I can.”
Implementing these tips into your daily routine during finals week can assist in the reduction of stress, teach you healthier ways of coping with it, and leave you better prepared to face any stress that may come in the future. Everyone is affected by stress differently, so there isn’t just one sure-fire cure. Try testing different methods to find out which one works best for you, and share your experiences with your friends and other students who may be going through stressful times as well. If you have a way of dealing with finals stress that wasn’t on this list, please share it with us in the comments below or on social media!
Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.