Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from all the work you need to finish during finals week? It’s not just finals week that’s stressful. It’s the few weeks before finals week that are unbearable because professors are trying to prepare for finals week and they squish the rest of the semester into 3 weeks worth of work. It’s terrible. Since it’s about a month before finals week, here’s a college grad’s guide to destressing during those few weeks before finals week.
1. Stay organized
Since I was an English major, I had keep track how many 10 page essays and portfolios were due. It would stress me out to no end feeling like I’d forget a deadline and get that dreaded zero. So, I would make an excel spreadsheet or Word document of all my final assignments and their due dates. Since my professors are really nice and pass out assignment sheets for all the remaining projects, I would just make a pile of all of them and go over each one and put it in my one document. It kept me on track and I never forgot a deadline. All that pressure of being overwhelmed left my shoulders. Now, I know everyone is different. You don’t have to go overboard and make an excel spreadsheet like I did. Just try to find a system that will keep you organized. Because once you are organized, you can start focusing on one project at a time.
2. Music is your friend
I’m the kind of person that cannot be productive without listening to music. I’m also the type of person that is staying up until 6 AM getting work done, so the music keeps me awake. It might not help with my Attention Deficit Disorder at times, but it is the best way to block out the surrounding noise and helps you focus on the assignment at hand. For example, back when I was a sophomore in college, my roommate at the time put together a playlist specifically to be played when we were doing homework. We called it B+J Homework Playlist. It helped us stay focused and helped us finish our homework at a reasonable time. It depends on the person, but I listen to loud and jumpy music when I am getting work done. No slow moving powerful ballads with piano. All guitars, drums, and people singing. You’ll be surprised how quick you get your work done when you make it fun.
3. Sleep is Important
I sucked at this. I was the kind of student that said, “I’ll sleep when it’s done.” Yeah, that turned into me running on 3-4 hours of sleep a day and barely being about to see straight. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep is greatly important to being able to function as a human being. Don’t over do it. I learn this now after I graduated how important getting a good night sleep is to my health. I can barely function at work if I only got 3-4 hours of sleep the previous night. It ruins my mental health and just doesn’t help me. That’s why finals week feels like the absolute worst because you are running on little sleep and your body is all out of wack. My thinking during finals week was “Oh, I’ll sleep on Christmas Break when everything is completed.” Yeah, but during that time I was dead on my feet and falling apart. Plan ahead and go to sleep on time.
4. Fresh air does wonders
When I get stressed, it’s very physical. My back, shoulders, and neck would cramp up and it would hurt so badly. My roommates Brit and Em would go on walks all the time, no matter what the weather conditions were. Since my college campus was a walking campus and big enough, there would be nights when Brit and I would take our laps around the campus green to get me out of my head space. It did wonders. The fresh air and getting space from the task at hand gave me the time to destress and recoup enough without getting completely distracted. Just take 5 minutes out of your busy stressful night to go outside and breathe in that fresh oxygen. It’ll help clear the mind and get back to work with a new fresh mindset.
5. Animals are fluffy friends
My college would have what we called Pet Therapy day when people would bring certified therapy dogs on campus for the stressed out students to pet and enjoy their company. It is scientifically proven that animals help with anxiety and depression. Colleges even allow students have an emotional support animal on campus. Sometimes stepping away from class and going outside and petting a fluffy yellow lab does wonders for stress. I remember when I couldn’t make it to Pet Therapy Day, I would go home on the weekends and hang out with my black lab, Sammy, and my fat cat BK. Just being around animals puts me in a better mood. It might help other students.
6. Take time for you
I remember my friends had to pry me away from my laptop because I couldn’t step away from my work not even for a little bit. It was extremely unhealthy and it didn’t help me at all with being productive because I was so stressed out my back pain would be unbearable and I couldn’t focus. So, what was helpful was to just take time out of my day to be by myself and do nothing. Sometimes getting away from the work helped be to finish the work. Taking time away from it cleared my head enough to be able to sit down and tackle one assignment at a time.
7. Going on Drives is fun
I don’t know what it is, but something about driving around and getting lost really takes my stress away. Since I was the only one in my apartment in college to have a car, I would be the one people would go to to drive around and get lost. I did this a lot with one of my roommates Brit. It has even helped me after college. I would be overwhelmed with work and I would go on a drive with friends and get lost somewhere and just talk. It might not help with gas being so expensive, but it gives you such a peace of mind after driving for a few hours. It does wonders especially during finals week.
8. Stress balls are fun to throw
Squeezing stress balls sometimes does wonders to lessen the stress in your back and shoulders when you direct all the stress in the ball. My RA friend, Christina, held an event where we made our own stress balls with flour and balloons. I still have mine. Sometimes when the ball got too much for me, I’d throw it up in the air and catch it. It would just calm my mind down and distract me from the stress of work.
9. Hang out with your friends
I would always dedicate one day of the weekend to just doing nothing and hanging with my friends. Whether it involved going out to the bar or staying in and baking snickerdoodles, the night would always involve us laughing and having a good time. Laughing and having fun boosts endorphins in your brain and makes you all happy. This helps with your overall physical and mental health. That is exactly what one needs during finals week. Just don’t overdo it and procrastinate and then having to do 2 weeks worth of work in one night.
10. Netflix and chill
I remember after finishing assignments my brain wouldn’t be able to turn off even if it was in the middle of the night when I finished. I needed time to turn off my brain and recoup. I would watch some show on Netflix or catch up on the shows I recorded on my DVR and watch them on my phone when I’m in bed. It helps me go to sleep and calms down my racing thoughts after typing on a laptop for 12 straight hours. It even helps me now after I get home from work. All the stress leaves my body once I hit the couch or my bed and I just breathe in and out. Watching shows on Netflix also gets my mind off the looming work I have left over. That’s tomorrow’s stress.