How To Survive A Stressful Finals Week

Natalie Dest, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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Now that Thanksgiving break has come to an end, it’s time to push through the last few weeks of the semester. And with these last few weeks comes the most dreaded time in a college student’s school year: finals.

Over the course of finals week, students typically have two goals in mind: to ace their exams and to keep stress to a minimum. Students are usually spotted in the late hours of the night at the library double-fisting their caffeinated beverages, munching on vending machine snacks and shuffling around their books to find a place to lay their head. It is not uncommon to run on three hours of sleep if you’re lucky.

It is the stress of having to stay on top of final projects, studying for tests and writing essays that can start to take an effect on your health, such as a lack of sleep, lack of nutritious meals and taking time for yourself. Carol Moran-Brown, senior director of the Counseling Center at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, explains how trying to find the right stress level during finals week will leave you with better results.

“Staying stress-free is important. But there is an ideal level of stress for each one of us, which helps motivate us to do our best,” Brown stated. “When we are functioning at that ideal level, we are sufficiently pushed to do our best, yet not paralyzed by the results of excessive stress. The goal is to find the ideal stress level and then try to stay there.”

Finding the right balance of stress and taking care of your mental and physical health is what’s most important during these few weeks. Below is a list of tips that you can partake in that will help guide you to be successful, motivated and healthy during this stressful time.
1. Exercise
Short exercise breaks can help relieve stress and burn off the extra sugary calories you may consume during your stress eating. Taking a jog around campus, doing yoga, play pick-up basketball or even hitting the on-campus gym can help get your fitness on. A 15 to 25-minute exercise a day can do just the trick.
And if exercising is not typically your thing, a muscle relaxation is a technique that many students can find useful as well. Whether that be stretching your legs, arms, upper back or shoulders for 15 minutes a day, any physical activity can help ease your mind from the stress of studying and make you feel better physically and mentally.
2. Staying on top of a healthy diet
It can become quite easy to lose track of a healthy meal plan during finals week. It is rather easy to forget to eat three meals a day and eat sugary snacks from the vending machine as a substitute. However, this is a big mistake for any student. Junk food can give you instant energy or even a sugar high, but it can affect your concentration and memory.
Eating nutritious foods will help energize you and increase your retention. Canceling out the vending machines and fast food restaurants around you is for the best, despite their convenience. If you’re choosing food from the dining hall or your kitchen, fruits and vegetables are the right choices, full of vitamins and nutrients that will prevent you from getting sick and give you the energy you need.
3. Stay hydrated at all times
Although it’s easy to stick to caffeine thanks to the energy it gives you to continue working, it actually dehydrates you faster.
Your brain works its best when it is hydrated, and water is the answer. Dehydration causes fatigue and headaches which will ultimately distract you from your work. Make sure you have a full water bottle during your studies and that you are actively drinking. You will eventually see the best results in your focus.
4. Strict sleeping schedule
Sticking to an actual, planned sleeping schedule is the best thing a student can do for themselves during finals week. Although it is easy to think you can pull an all-nighter the night before a big exam, it’s these crucial hours of sleep that can leave you more concentrated and able to retain more information during your test the next morning.
Sometimes less is more. Sleep will improve the quality and retention of your studying, even though you may have less time to study.
5. Give yourself breaks 
Studying non-stop is not helpful nor healthy, no matter how much you may be worrying about a certain project or exam. After a long period of studying, your concentration will be broken and it will become increasingly more difficult to be able to retain any information.
Whether you take a stroll through your dorm, visit a friend or just browse the web for fun, any short break or activity can help you re-focus later and give your brain the rest it deserves.