Survivor’s guide to finals week

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Keep your hair intact (Photo by stuartpilbrow via Flickr).

Keep your hair intact (Photo by stuartpilbrow via Flickr).

For college students, the accumulation of all our hard work, group projects, stacks of homework, and 24 hour study session is upon us: it’s finals week. This week can easily be called the most stressful week for any college student. It’s a time when we get the least amount of sleep, drink way too much caffeine, and try to cram as much information as possible from weeks worth of work into one final exam.

As a college student myself, I have developed some tricks to help make finals week a little less stressful. They may not be a cure-all, but could prevent you from pulling out your hair. They’re also good tips if you’re suffering from a non-finals related stress fest of your own.

Don’t starve yourself

With all the studying and stressing that will happen this week, many of us forget to eat. Even though it may be a good weight loss system for now all the weight will just come back during the holidays, and then some. Keep snacks on hand everywhere: backpack, purse, car, just about anywhere that make it easily accessible. Try to stay with healthy snacks packing energy such as nuts and fruits. This also helps to avoid vending machines filled with sugar packed products.

Don’t forget to move

Have you ever studied so much that after time you realize the same line has been read three or four times? The brain is like a muscle; it needs a break too. When you feel like your brain is overworked, take a break. I mean, literally get up and move around; don’t just switch from your textbook to your blackberry. By getting up and moving around the blood starts flowing, providing a little more energy, and the brain gets a much needed rest. Try and move around for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Think about it, after studying for three or four hours a ten minute break really isn’t much. Take the time and your brain will thank you. Read more

Keep the beats flowing (Photo by Andrew* via Flickr).

Keep the beats flowing (Photo by Andrew* via Flickr).

Keep tunes on hand

Whether in your car or on your mp3 player keep upbeat and funky tunes close by. It’s cool to have your regular line up ready to go, but throw in some funky and out of ordinary tunes to perk up your study session. Throw in some Aretha Franklin, “Respect” and try to stop yourself from wanting to rock out. Jamming out in the car or lip syncing in the bedroom can be a great stress reliever. Who cares if anyone thinks it’s silly? It’s final week and you should be allowed to break from the stress when needed.

Get out of your niche

Studying in the same place every day can get mundane and can also hinder the ability to study well. During finals week, studying is like a job; going to the same job ever day and doing the same thing can be completely un-motivating. Plan to study in multiple places, especially if some subjects require extra quietness or not; choose the library, Starbucks, the living room, inside Denny’s, and anywhere to mix up the scene a little bit.

Water has “magical” effects

Water works wonders (Photo by albertopveiga via Flickr).

Water works wonders (Photo by albertopveiga via Flickr).

Let’s face it: we can only live off of caffeine for so long. Sooner or later we’re going to crash, and probably when we don’t have time to. I’m not saying swear off coffee, soda, and other caffeine during finals week, that just inhuman. Instead, try to incorporate water as much as possible and only use caffeine when necessary. Did you know you can get tired from being dehydrated? It’s true. In many cases, it’s not because we needed six cans of Pepsi instead of five, but rather because we needed plain old water to bring our energy up to par. So before clicking on the soda button from the vending machine, try water. It may be all that’s really needed to get an energy boost.

Mix it up

Studying the same subject for hours on end will just bore a hole in your head, allowing information to spill out. The way my science teacher explained it to me is this: the brain is like a beaker in that it can only be filled up so much before it starts overflowing and material spills out. He explained a better way to study is to study one subject for a few hours, then switch to another subject. This allows your brain to retain the information from the first subject, without having to forget anything to allow room for the second. So don’t push your brain to the breaking point because it can hurt more than help when it comes to taking the test.

I hope these tips help and finals week is a little less stressful to get through. Don’t let stress rule your study hours and take a break when you know you need one. Good luck to everyone battling the finals giant and congratulations to all who get to graduate because you’ll never have to deal with finals week again!

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