Finals week is quickly approaching and I think that all college students can agree that it is a grueling time of year. With our grades on our minds, we can sometimes forget the importance of both our physical and mental health. Your health should always be your main priority. Here are 7 simple things to incorporate into your life to stay mentally and physically sound this upcoming finals week.
1. Get Moving
When you’re cramming in the library all day the last thing on your mind is getting a workout in. But hear me out! We all know that exercise is great for our bodies, but exercise is also SO good for our mental health, decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression and even boosting our self-esteem.
Exercise has also proven to not only leave you feeling more energized and refreshed, but also improves attention, processing speed and cognitive ability. As if that wasn’t enough already, there’s also been evidence of exercising resulting in better memory and more ability to balance multiple intellectual tasks at once. Whether it be a quick run on the treadmill, a relaxing yoga class, or even just a walk around the block, taking a little time between your studies to move will do you a world of good.
With all the coffee we consume during this week, it can be easy to forget the most important beverage there is. Water. Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially during a time like finals week as it can seriously take a toll on our health, physically and mentally.
Dehydration damages both your body and your brain, directly affecting your mood, energy and stress levels. Not to mention it can compromise your brainpower too, making retaining information and staying concentrated even more difficult. That managerial accounting class is boring enough as it is, guys. Do yourself a favor and make concentrating easier by continuously refilling that cute water bottle you got from Target.
3. Take a break
I know it seems like free time is nonexistent during this week, however, taking a break is ESSENTIAL for keeping yourself sane. You don’t want to overwork yourself and burn out when you still have tons of work to do. I’m not saying to take a day off or anything, but taking thirty minutes for lunch, a nice hot bath to unwind at the end of the day, or even just watching a couple YouTube videos after finishing a pile of your biology notecards will seriously do wonders. Make sure you’re not being too hard on yourself. Taking small breaks when needed with help you feel happier, refreshed, and way less overwhelmed.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but that all-nighter is not going to work. Sleep deprivation is extremely damaging to the brain, directly affecting both your mental and cognitive health. Getting less than six hours of sleep a night on a regular basis is incredibly bad for you as it prevents your body from repairing and restoring itself and you will become rundown FAST.
It is significantly more difficult to learn when you’re tired because you can’t focus as well and your memory isn’t as effective – literally the opposite of what you want when studying for finals. Being sleep deprived also weakens your immune system, makes you more irritable, more likely to be depressed, and less adept at managing stress and making good decisions. Make sure you do yourself a favor and get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes an extra hour of rest will do more good than that extra hour of cramming.
5. Stay Organized
Being organized is extremely important in college, but it is extra important by the time finals roll around. Make sure to start ahead on as many things as possible to help pace yourself so you’re not taking on too much at once and stressing yourself out. I like getting the smaller tasks on my to-do list out of the way first because it helps me feel more accomplished and motivated to take on the rest.
Creating a timetable of your day can be extremely helpful as well, just don’t freak yourself out and remember to just focus on the task you are doing at that moment. Over-planning can sometimes do more harm than good. Did you accidentally leave too much for the last minute? Prioritize by focusing on projects, presentations and review for the classes you have the worst grade in or tasks that are going to take the longest amount of time.
6. Brain food
Your body needs fuel in order to function properly, so make sure you are feeding it lots of nutritious, energy-boosting foods in order to tackle your exams like a champ. Skipping meals and binging on junk food is not going to cut it.
Try to incorporate whole grains, yogurt and as many fruits and veggies as you can. These foods will give you energy, boost your concentration and help you avoid a crash in the afternoon. Don’t stress out about treating yourself, though, finals week is no time for a diet. You deserve that doughnut (or three,) girl!
7. Think Positively
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do to help you get through finals week is to be kind to yourself. It is easy to get sucked into a dark hole of stress and negative thought and it is so necessary to remember that a test is just test. Failing a test, heck, failing a class isn’t the end of the world. Work hard, challenge yourself and always strive to be the best you can be, but your grades are just a number and they truly do not define you. When it comes down to it, true success is being happy, being fulfilled and living a life you love full of people you love. All you can do is your best. Remember that.
Best of luck with all of your finals and happy holidays, lala ladies!
Photography by Ellen Bankston