Tips for not letting finals week finish you

By: Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor 

Sound the alarm, cower under the covers and pretend like ignoring responsibilities will make them go away entirely. Buckle up, everyone, because finals week is back with a vengeance.

There are few words that can destroy a college student’s spirit quite like “finals week” does. Handfuls of research studies show that students are at their most stressed states of mind during this seemingly endless week of tests, papers and projects. But let’s be real; we already knew that.

Maneuvering through finals week seems so tricky – and escaping with your sanity intact seems nearly impossible – so it can be easy to just shut down. But instead of scrolling through Buzzfeed or The Odyssey for hours looking at posts about television shows that portray your feelings about finals in 32 GIFs, here are some actual tips that you can put to good use. They’re simple, they’re effective and, hopefully, they will help you make this finals week a breeze.

Set Goals. Before you begin any studying, set some goals for yourself for each day before the test. Plan on accomplishing a manageable amount of work, keeping in mind all of your other classes that you will be working on in addition. Breaking down the amount of work you have to do over numerous days makes it less overwhelming. Once you’ve done that, write it down, color code it, whatever – just make sure you stick to it. Don’t skip and fall behind, because you’ll have to make up that studying later, which defeats the purpose of defining goals in the first place.

Stress Less. Take a deep breath and just remind yourself that these are only tests. Just a couple of pieces of paper with words on them. Maybe a staple. They might seem like the be-all, end-all occasion of academia, but they’re really no different than anything else you’ve done all year in your classes. Unless it absolutely comes down to you passing this final in order to graduate, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to ace it.

Stress has lasting effects on pretty much every part of the body. When you’re stressed, breathing is harder, muscles are tighter and blood pressure is higher. Continued over long periods of time, it can lead to serious health complications. Focus on doing your best. Don’t obsess over memorizing every last term or fact. And if you don’t do as well as you hoped, remember it isn’t the end of the world. You will still get a job, I promise.

Drink More. More water, that is. A 2012 study conducted by the British Psychological Society shows that students who drink more water are actually smarter. In this study, students who brought water into exams performed with nearly 30 percent higher cognitive function than those who did not. Part of the reason behind this is because water molecules contain oxygen, and the more oxygen the brain gets, the better it functions. Water keeps you hydrated and allows for automatic built-in bathroom breaks (a.k.a. study breaks) during the day. Aim to consume roughly half of your weight in ounces of water over the course of a day. So if you weigh 130 pounds, you’re looking at 65 ounces.

Say No (While Saying Yes). If you’re a crammer, then you need all the prep time you can get. That means declining invitations to unnecessary social functions, begrudgingly of course. This might be the most difficult task to accomplish during finals week, perhaps even more difficult than the studying itself. Naturally you’d much rather be soaking up the beautiful Pittsburgh weather (finally) with other human beings than being locked in the lower levels/dungeons of Gumberg Library.

So instead, take advantage of outdoor study areas. If you can find an empty bench on A-Walk, snag it up and mull over your chemistry notes there with a classmate. Or, sit in a sunny corner of the Fishbowl. The important thing is that you focus on schoolwork and not socialization. Even spending just an hour in the sun can put you in a better mood and create a more optimistic frame of mind. And bonus – Vitamin D makes you smarter, too.

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