Campus Cope: How to break through finals week anxieties

Approaching finals week, learn ways you can ease your anxiety and take care of your mental health and well-being

While hot, vibrant summer days are in close reach, walks on the beach, hometown visits, planned vacations and more summer activities are still a ways away as we head into finals week. As you prepare for lots of studying and late nights, don’t forget to acknowledge your mental health and overall wellbeing during this time. After all, if you’re feeling your best, high chances are that you’ll perform your best in any of your upcoming exams.  

While we all dread exam season and the anxiety that arises from it, try to approach testing in a positive way. Why suffer when you can make the best out of the ending of the quarter? Here’s a run-through of factors that should be emphasized to ensure your success and health during this time. 

Test Preparation

Turning to your syllabus as a guide is vital. First, determine what format your final is in. Is it an exam, final paper or final project? Based on this, plan your approach and keep in mind a strategy that is best suited for you to understand the material, not just memorize it. 

Cramming a lot of material into one study session shouldn’t be a strategy to consider at any point. Re-reading notes and looking at lecture slides can be helpful in reviewing but might not be effective if done wrong. You might be thinking, how is there any way of that being ineffective if you are familiarizing yourself with the material? If you are only familiarizing yourself with the material, you are likely to later forget it. Familiarizing yourself with and knowing the essence of what you’re reading versus understanding how to describe it and apply it to exam questions or essay prompts is distinctively different. Your objective is to learn, understand, reflect and apply! 

Healthy Day-to-Day Habits

Similarly to studying daily, healthy habits ought to be implemented into your lifestyle not just as a “day before final” kind of action. Keeping up with yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually is a must as an individual, student or not. Feeling like you have to be productive 24/7 will only lead to your own deterioration. There are enough gaps in the day for you to live life as well.  

Experts report that you should be getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. Committing to an all-nighter won’t increase your chances of doing better on an exam; if anything it will only guarantee that your mental capacity and energy are depleted prior to the exam. Nutrition also goes hand-in-hand with sleep when it comes to the functionality of your brain. You want to make sure to have nutritious meals planned out for your day. There’s no need to over complicate your meals; keep it simple and target your macronutrients and micronutrient intake for the day! 

Having a Positive Mental Attitude

Studying and preparing for exams shouldn’t have to feel excruciating or tormenting. Excessive worrying and ruminating on exams will only heighten your anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of pre-test jitters, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you in a negative way. Aim to keep your stress to a manageable amount, where it can help you prepare for facing your exams by planning accordingly. 

On this note, prioritize treating yourself as well. If you’re stuck sitting at a desk for long periods of time trying to meet all your academic obligations, change up the scenery. There are no rules, and the world is your oyster! I know, embarrassingly “cliché, but true. You can reserve a room at Orbach or Rivera Library if you are seeking a quiet and isolated space, or perhaps you want a public setting which you can find at the Student Success Center. There are many other locations available on and off campus which are also great places to study!

Make your studying setup an aesthetic moment if it brings you joy. “Romanticizing” studying can mean looking after yourself and your best interests. Whether that means accessorizing, organizing, or being creative with your approach…. do it! Some comforting items I’ve found helpful and anxiety reducing are a nice pair of headphones, blue light glasses, and a laptop stand. These items are crucial to reduce eye strain, prevent back pain, and block out any unwanted background noise.  

Relaxing from Study Sessions 

Take time to step back and decompress. This can look differently for everyone, ranging from staying-in or going-out. 

Here are a couple ways you can make time for yourself and the things you enjoy: meditation or therapeutic reading can help you immerse yourself into the spiritual side of your life, reflect on the present and grow conscious of yourself without distractions. Going on a self-care date can help you prioritize yourself without the constant demand and competition for your attention; this date can be anything from eating at a restaurant you love or going to see a movie with all your favorite snacks in hand. Enduring a workout can bring great benefits to your body and brain and help you feel accomplished. There are a variety of hiking trails at our disposal that you can choose from thanks to the convenience of our University’s location. Another place to look for workout opportunities is through the Student Recreation Center Website which offers free group fitness classes such as “Pilates Fusion” and “Cycle Burn.”

Regardless if it’s your first or last time experiencing the stress that comes with finals week, know it’s going to be okay. It’s a normal part of the collective human experience as a college student. If approached strategically and with some of the factors mentioned above in mind, you can alleviate the negative effects of anxiety and construct long-term habits for your health and success.