How to Destress During Finals

Written by: Oak Hills Christian College

Thursday, December 08, 2016

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Over the course of next week Oakies will be hustling and bustling trying to turn in their final papers, and studying for final exams. Students will be spotted late at night in the library munching on sugary snacks, chugging caffeinated drinks, and roaming the hallway dragging their half-asleep bodies like zombies.

While moderate levels of stress can motivate students to push further, excessive stress can paralyze the brain resulting in underperformance. External stress emerges for various reasons, including overwhelming workload, winter flu, and let’s face it, procrastination. In order to perform your best on final exams, remember the basics: stay active, get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and plan time wisely.

Here are some tried-and-true tips for relieving stress during finals:

Stay Active
Take a jog around Lake Marquette, follow a workout tutorial on YouTube, or go to the recreation center and get moving. Exercise helps you focus, gives you additional energy, and releases endorphins to help destress. If you’re too exhausted to move an inch of your body, muscle relaxation or meditation is a technique many people find helpful. Systematically tense and relax major muscle groups of your body, which will lower overall tension, and help you relax when feeling anxious.

Eat Nutritious Meals and Snacks
Students usually eat unhealthy during finals week. With a time crunch, they go for quick snacks that are available in vending machines. Junk food may offer instant energy or a sugar high, but it affects your concentration and memory. Check out healthy options at the cafeteria or stock up on fruits and vegetables for nutritious on-the-go snacks.

Take a Break
Non-stop studying decreases concentration and retention. Your brain can only absorb so much information during a given period. Treat yourself to short breaks to enjoy relaxing activities such as coloring, playing games, baking, or simply chatting with your friends. Just remember to allocate your time wisely, so you don’t end up procrastinating.

Prioritize & Plan
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Check your syllabus or ask professors for a study guide if you have an actual exam. Turn in your final papers, presentations and projects ahead, so you can dedicate your time studying for exams during finals week. And one word of advice: Double-Check Your Exam Times. If there is a conflict with your final exam schedule, let professors know far in advance.

Unplug
It’s common to lose track of time while browsing on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media apps. Turn off your notification and focus on the studying material just for this week. We promise, this sacrifice will be worthwhile in the end. Need a quick break? Watch an otter take a bath - it will surely bring a smile. But afterwards, it’s time to unplug and study!

Attend On-Campus Programs
Oak Hills helps students to de-stress during finals week by offering school-sponsored events. We're hosting "De-stress with Pets", where Great River Rescue will bring dogs and cats for students to cuddle,  a "Ping-Pong Tournament", and "Ugly Sweater Contest", just to name a few. There will also be free food and hall activities throughout campus, so keep your free-food-antenna up! Contact Student Life for more information on finals events. 

Create a Gratitude List
When all else fails and anxiety threatens to take over, create a gratitude list to get you through finals. Do you have travel plans for winter break? Will you be going home to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with your family and loved ones? Have your friends been helping you cram for your exams? Friends, family, holiday gifts, travel… not everybody has these things, so focus on the things that bring you joy to help propel you through the through the tough (temporary!) time. Once the semester is over you’ll be one more step closer to graduation, another thing to be grateful for!

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