As college students, the feeling of being a faceless number is nothing new. The blood, sweat and tears we shed for classes—essays, exams, presentations, labs, and so forth—all get tabulated into numeric and letter grades. From there, the almighty GPA is determined. The GPA can play an important part in career options, as some jobs exclude those who don’t meet a minimum requirement.
During this pivotal time of life comes a pivotal time of the school year: finals week. Often, a large portion of students’ grades and GPA are determined by their performance on one final assignment.
Finals are undeniably stressful, and some time-tested practices can help fend off the mounting stress for students taking exams.
Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and lower stress levels, aiding on a physiological level. Heading to the Rec Center throughout finals week and doing any form of exercise takes attention away from mental strain and worries, redirecting it to the body.
Another time-tested way to get out of the head and into the body is through meditation. Countless online guided meditations provide primers for beginners. The Headspace app is another option, but all that is really needed is a quiet space and attention to the breath.
Box breathing is a simple technique that regulates the breath and clears the head. It involves breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath for four and then releasing for four. This can be done anywhere, even before, during or after a final exam.
All can feel lost as finals loom, and expressing gratitude for the good components in life can help counteract negative feelings. A 2011 study published in “Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being” found that people who are grateful have better sleep. Thinking about or writing down the things we are grateful for from the day or life in general can generate a grateful mind frame and lead to more restful sleep.
Lastly, paying attention to diet is of utmost importance. Staying up late studying can lead to poor dietary choices, whether that’s seven cups of coffee or a late night run for burgers. Even worse, some of us may neglect to eat much at all, due to a combination of workload and stress. Remembering to eat three meals a day and drink plenty of water will help keep us energized and ready for the curveballs of finals week.
As the school year’s end is on the horizon, there is one last hurdle to jump. Incorporating these or other methods for maintaining mental health are key to a less terrible finals week. Good luck.
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