Without question, Finals Week can be hellish. For some of you it’s not limited to one week; it’s spread over two weeks — even more stressful. Here are a few things you can do to make your crazy, chaotic life a little less stressful during Finals.
1. Get Out of Your Own Way!
I call it “negative head talk,” and we are all guilty of it at one time or another. It’s when you say things to yourself like: There’s no way I’m going to pass this class. I don’t get it. I don’t have time to learn all of this. My life sucks. I’ll be lucky to pull out a “C”. There’s just no way …
You know the routine. It’s that constant negative mind chatter that starts to cloud all of those ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain. When that happens, you start to feel stressed!
Stop the negative head talk and you’ll stop the stress. Better yet, replace the negative with positive. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all kumbaya on you. But seriously, you’ll begin to see amazing results when you start thinking things like: I’m going to ace this class. This is easy. I have all the time I need. My life rocks. I’ll pass this class — easy.
Start swapping the negative with positive, and you’ll definitely begin to feel less stressed.
2. Make a List & Check It Twice
There are ‘List People’ and there’s everyone else. If you’re a List Person, you already know it and you know what to do. Feel free to mark off #2 and skip straight away to #3 (I know you won’t because List People don’t do that, but really, it’s OK … try it!). Here’s why List People are List People. When you are stressed, your memory goes to hell — which only adds to your stress. If you have a To Do List that contains everything you have to get done during Finals Week, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do anything. It’s all on the list. Pretty simple concept, but lots of students don’t take advantage of it.
Grab a sheet of paper and brainstorm a list of everything you absolutely must get done during Finals Week, and keep it with you. Each time you complete a task on the list, mark through it. It’s instant gratification.
Keeping a To Do List is like winning the game and the bonus round. You are less stressed by merely keeping a list because you no longer have to worry with keeping track of everything in your head. And, as you complete each item and cross it off the list you feel a little piece of the weight fall off your shoulders. Instant double score!
This is kind of cheesy sounding, but it works. Schedule one day, one morning, one afternoon, or one evening to give yourself the VIP treatment. Why? Well, because you deserve it. Not a VIP you say? Semantics. (and, yes, you actually are a VIP … we’ll cover that in a separate blog someday) So, what exactly is the VIP treatment? Pretty much anything that you love doing: Watch a movie. Read a book. Go get a latte. Get a massage. Read a magazine. Play with the dog. Go to the park. Go shopping. Shoot hoops. Eat at your favorite restaurant. Just get out there and play!
Taking care of yourself is insanely important when staving off stress. Scheduling time just for you is a must (and it doesn’t really require a huge investment of time). It’s good for the mind. It’s good for the soul. Nourish the mind and soul; banish the stress.
4. Don’t Lose Sleep Over it
This one is a no-brainer. We all know we need to sleep, but during Finals Week, we often push ourselves to the limit. When you sleep, your body uses that time to rest, renew, and re-energize for the next day. It helps keep you sharp and mentally focussed. If you start to deprive your body of sleep, you become foggy, groggy, irritable, and stressed.
Knowing there may be less time to sleep during Finals Week, plan your time wisely (see #2 above). If you find yourself exhausted during the day, try a 30-minute power nap. They work wonders. Just be sure to set an alarm clock so that you don’t sleep all day long!
Yes, cram! Not the advice most people are dishing out, huh? Most of you are going to do this. However, some of you will think there is no point to cramming … thinking, if I don’t know it by now, I never will. You may be right, but come on, cramming is a time honored college tradition! Here’s the deal: Cramming is not about learning what you don’t know. It’s about reinforcing what you do know. It makes you feel a little more prepared for your exam, which, in turn will make you a little less stressed going into the exam room. The worst that can happen is that you pack those brain cells full of more information, right? If it helps, fantastic! If it doesn’t, there’s always next semester. It’s a class — not the end of the world. Just give it your all and do your best.
Finals Week is like a double-edged sword. On one side, you are glad the semester is over. On the other side, however, you’re pulling your hair out stressing over final exams. There are a handful of “quickies” — no, not that kind — that I teach people who are stressed. These are techniques and methods that work quickly and without fail (for most people). One of my favorite quickies is laughing. If you’re laughing, you’re not stressing. Simple as that. During Finals Week, make sure to get in a bunch of good laughs. Right now, my favorite laugh inducer is the television show, Big Bang Theory (Mondays on CBS). I can’t recall a show that has made me laugh so much. I joke that it’s my thirty minutes of therapy. Other good alternatives: comedy DVDs, SNL, You Tube videos — especially the “Charlie Bit Me” video, stand up comedians — whatever makes you laugh! Generate a little laughter in your life and watch what it does to your stress level. It’s super fast and super effective.
It’s fun to celebrate, and anything (OK … almost anything) that’s fun helps decrease stress. Plan a celebration for the end of Finals Week. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be a simple dinner and movie. Or, it could be huge. Whatever you choose will give you something to look forward to and will be a great way to kick the stress at the end of a hectic week. Have fun and party smart … after all your exams are finished! Happy Finals Week!