5 Ways to Reduce Stress During Finals Week

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1. It is tempting to feel that you need to stay up late in order to have enough time to study, but it’s more important to get to bed on time! Studies by The Sleep Foundation have shown that while you may have more time to study by staying up late, your retention of the material is not high enough to make this strategy effective. Sleep builds memory and thus you are better off learning the material, going to bed at a reasonable time, and reviewing further in the morning when you have a greater capacity to remember the content. In addition, the value of sleep isn’t limited to memorization. With a good night’s sleep, your brain has the opportunity to synthesize ideas and pull old thoughts and memories together, hence the phrase, “Let me sleep on it before I decide.” With all of this in mind, make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time as it will ensure your brain’s ability to perform like you know it can!

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2. You may feel like you don’t have enough time to eat a proper meal, but eating well and eating often is crucial. Your body and brain require nutrients to operate effectively. Good food gives us the physical and mental energy to study and focus for longer periods of time. Think about it – when you’re hungry, the thought you dwell on most is how hungry you are. By giving your body and brain the energy and strength it needs, you are ensuring your ability to study longer and harder. Spacing your meals out regularly signals to your body that food will be coming at a specific time and your distracting snack cravings will be minimized. Without the question of when you’ll have the time to snack and what you will be able to eat, you’ll be less stressed already.

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3. When you and your work place looks good, you feel good – keep yourself and your space clean and organized. Looking good and feeling good goes hand in hand. With less distractions scattering your desk, and with a sense of structural arrangement for your school supplies, you are bound to work harder and more effectively. When you look good yourself, your posture changes, your focus increases, and you want to perform well. We’ve all had days where laying in bed, wearing a sweatshirt covered with Cheetos dust sounds like the best thing imaginable, but we also all know that during these days, we’re are likely to accomplish no more than watching a full season of "The Office". Get up, shower, brush your hair, and you will surely be more productive and less stressed.


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4. Change the scenery of your study environment if you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything. Staring at the same bookshelf in the library for hours can make you antsy and anxious, especially when you’re frustrated and trying to study for an extended amount of time. What doubles this anxiety is when you feel restricted to that one space. If you start to feel this way, pick up your stuff and move somewhere new. Consider the student center, an empty classroom, or a coffee shop. Not only will this get you up and moving, but it will give you the opportunity to reset your brain and not feel so consumed by studying in one place for so long. Additionally, if you can take a short break outside, even if that break only involves walking from the library to the coffee shop, the fresh air will help clear your mind.

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5. Work exercise into your daily routine! It is super easy to veg out, eat crummy food, and sit in one place for what can feel like days at a time during finals week. But by doing this, you are worsening your stress by preventing your body from releasing a neurotransmitter called serotonin. According to Livestrong, the release of serotonin helps you feel better and reduces your anxiety and stress levels. Exercise also pumps up another chemical, endorphins, which give you the energy you need to stay motivated. Plan a quick workout between study sessions and let your brain chemistry help you study and stay less stressed!

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Everyone manages their stress differently and you may feel that these tips won’t work for you, but keep your head up, try to stay positive, speak with friends and family, and ace your tests!