Student Diary: Self-Care Leading up to Finals Week

This week's Student Diary discusses finding yourself and fear of the unknown - Managing Editor / Tara Lonsdorf

As the fall 2020 semester comes to a close, one thing is left looming in the shadows: finals week. The dreaded time where campus libraries reach capacity and the side table lamps lighting the pages of our textbooks seem to stay on throughout the night.

Falling in line with just about every other aspect of 2020, finals are looking a bit different this semester, yet, for many, just as stressful. For those of us anxiously gearing up for the final weeks of the semester, here are a few ways to make sure that you continue to take care of yourself as you prepare:

Make Things Easier for Yourself and Stay Organized

There’s nothing that will add to an already stressful week of work quite like a cluttered workspace. Studying for exams, writing final papers and preparing final projects will take up enough of your time without the added fuss of trying to dig through cluttered notes, loose papers and more mess.

Designate a specific area to do your studying and to get your work done, and keep it clean. Organize your notes for each final, keep them separated and give yourself specified times to work on different classes. Keep a planner with due dates and time chunks for the days leading up to finals clearly marked. To think clearly for finals week, you need a clear space to prepare. 

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep and Eating Well

Although it can be almost instinctual to pull all-nighters during your finals week preparation, the average person typically needs at least seven to eight hours of sleep to be truly well-rested and able to perform to the best of their abilities.

Staying up for days on end is most likely not going to allow you to perform as well as you might hope, causing you to feel more sleep-deprived than prepared on the day of the exam or presentation.

Start your studying early rather than a few nights before exams, dedicating a couple of hours each day to preparation rather than cramming in an all-nighter the day before. You will thank yourself.

Make sure to take care of yourself and set aside time for meals each day. Although it may seem like a no-brainer, in the hustle and bustle of exam week, it’s easier than you think to forfeit meal times in order to cram in more study time or to simply forget in the midst of a busy day. Your body will thank you for providing it the fuel it needs to do your best work during finals week.  

Unplug From Your Phone

More often than not, a break from technology will serve you well. Give yourself time to unwind that does not involve social media or refreshing the latest news on your timeline. Take a bath, go for a drive, listen to music or hang out with a friend.

Social media may not only distract you from otherwise productive work time, but it can become an extremely draining form of entertainment, especially during a time where most of us already tend to experience a bit more stress, vulnerability and anxiety.

When you need to take a break from your work, use that time to relax away from your phone. Go for a walk, make your favorite warm drink or simply just rest. Time spent with yourself is just as valuable as time spent checking your feed.

Make Time for Something That You Enjoy Everyday 

Try not to get too caught up in the non-stop nature of finals week, and give yourself something to look forward to each day. With the holidays approaching, there are drive-through light displays to see, warm drinks to make and holiday movies to watch.

Whether holiday-related or personal to you, find something enjoyable to make time for each day. Give yourself a set time to wrap up work for the night or breaks throughout the day that will allow you to do something for yourself, making all of your day’s work worth it. 

Remind Yourself of the Light at the end of the Tunnel

It can be easy to view finals week as a never-ending period of time, with weeks of preparation dragging on. Remind yourself that it’s simply that—a period of time. You’ll complete the paper, wrap up the project and finish up your studying. You will get through this!

Set a post-finals celebration date, whether it be coffee with a friend, a Zoom call with loved ones or a night in with your favorite meal and movie on the TV. Give yourself something to look forward to when it’s all over that will motivate your habits now, because although it seems daunting, finals week, like 2020, will, thankfully, come to a close soon enough.

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