With the semester almost over and finals beginning, we all need to make sure we take proper care of ourselves. While physical health is important, so is our emotional health, especially during times of stress. That means making a little time for yourself, in-between homework and studying. But as everyone is aware, it can be very hard to take time for yourself when you have homework and studying to do. This is my personal guide to help you avoid letting finals week stress get the best of you.
Remember to eat
This seems like something really obvious, but when you’re trying to put 110% focus into something, you might forget to stop and get something to eat. That will cause your body to work less efficiently, and only frustrate you further. Set alarms in your phone at certain times, to make sure you get a well-deserved break, as well as some food. And if you are feeling stressed out, it’s better to give yourself that little break.
Write down everything you need to do
Getting organized is important. Write down all assignments that are due soon, number them by how important they are, and how long they might take to finish. Setting priorities gives you some options: it can be mind-numbing to work on the same essay for hours on end. You can take a break from one large homework assignment, by focusing on smaller homework that you can get done quickly. It’s not a full break, but it is a change of scenery, so you’re not staring at your screen pulling your hair out.
Pulling an all-nighter is an option if you can work like that, but most of us can’t– and besides, sooner or later, it catches up with you. A lack of sleep can put even more stress on an already tired brain. Work until your brain tells you that you need rest. Set an alarm a few hours before your first class so you can finish up, or check on any homework you didn’t finish. Even if it’s less than 8 hours, getting some sleep will recharge your brain to work more efficiently.
Finding the proper place to get the most work done is key. Some people need absolute silence to properly finish their work. Libraries and computer labs are relatively quiet places for those who need that peaceful environment to concentrate. But some students need to be around people; they find that not being alone is comforting, as well as relaxing. Going to places like cafés, or the student center, or even just being outside (weather-permitting) might be good for getting some work done. It’s your preference, whatever you think you works best– peace and quiet, or being around other people; find what’s right for you, and go do your studying there.
For those who don’t need silence, music is key to keeping your mind focus on the task at hand. Some people work best with classical music, especially when writing a paper or getting some reading done. The problem with listening to vocals is the words, and if your work involves reading or writing, you need to pay attention: when you’ve got your favorite songs on, the mind can get overwhelmed and focus on the songs, rather than on what you need to study. This too is a personal preference though; if music with lyrics helps you, then go for it. Some people find it helps to have happy music with a beat; something too laid-back might make you feel sleepy. Think of your “homework playlist” as music you would hear in a movie montage. Quick and happy music, that makes you want to get work done quickly. Even your music on shuffle could help whatever gets you working. In my own case, it was trial and error: it took me a while to find what the best type of music was.
Get clean and comfy
Everyone needs to shower. Again, that may seem obvious, but when you’re under stress, it’s easy to forget about it. It doesn’t need to be a long shower; just one long enough to wash off the stress of your day. People forget about the healing nature of hot water. Once you’re done, put on that sweatshirt that’s fuzzy and warm. Kick off your shoes and find a spot to curl up with your work. You have spent your whole day in classroom seats; it’s your time to take up a whole couch in a big fluffy blanket and be productive.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We have all been there: time management is a skill learned the hard way, so don’t be afraid to ask your friends, tutors, advisors, or even your professor for help. Being honest to a professor is the best thing; tell them what happened and that you should have managed your time better. Most everyone will understand, as long as this doesn’t become a pattern. Then, make sure you get the work done and handed in as soon as possible.
As most of us are aware, ignoring our emotional health can impact our daily lives. We have to make being healthy a priority. If work is stressing you out, it can happen to the best of us. But you can learn how to manage stress, as long as you make some time for yourself. If you practice these positive habits of self-care, stress won’t take over your life– even during finals week!