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A Guide to Decompressing After Finals

However you have done it, you just sprinted, ran, walked, skipped, or crawled through the last day of finals. All pressure is off — except, it’s not. Why are your shoulders still tense as though you’re sitting behind a computer screen or hunched over a textbook? Why is your heart still beating one thousand miles a minute as though you just finished a marathon? 

The quarter system comes with many perks; however, the caveat of ten weeks means the stress kicks in and does not end until the final grades are set. How does one decompress  after finals are over? Here is a guide to all things related to rest and rejuvenation after your last exam is finished. 



Maybe you’re someone who enjoys a freshly clean load of laundry, a sparkling empty sink, or fresh sheets and the smell of Febreeze.  Diverting your attention from the fast paced environment of academics into an unrelated activity such as cleaning will certainly help deflect excess energy. If cleaning is up your alley, blast your favorite tunes and cleanse your space to release pent up stress after the finals season.



With the holidays on the horizon, who doesn’t  love the aroma of freshly baked goodies in the oven? A great way to decompress after exams is to head  into the kitchen. There is something quite therapeutic about baking. Perhaps it’s correlated with diverting your attention from your mind to your hands — especially when there are  tasty treats involved. The wondrous sensation of baking alleviates all your senses from their previously heightened states. We suggest this classic brownies recipe from The Food Network or this chocolate chip 101 recipe 

Both can easily be substituted for vegan ingredients as necessary!


Read for Pleasure. 

If you are anything like us, you love an easy read! Although the stress of finals demands lots of textbook time, picking up your favorite book is a convenient tool to forget the outside world for a while. Cozy up with some blankets and a cup of tea  in your favorite place to read a light, airy novel; this book can be something new, or one of your classic favorites. Sometimes the best release for the stress is found turning your attention from reality to fiction



Honestly, your body may just be begging for rest. Sleep is something we all need  but sleep is also something we do not get enough of during college and during finals. Take a nap with intent: put on your favorite sweatpants, turn out all of the lights, find your coziest blankets, and curl up for a minute or two. If this means turning off your cell phone, or closing your door — do it. Let your mind and body completely unwind in an environment that does not demand your immediate attention.  Once your head hits the pillow, allow yourself to simply be. 



On the flip side, getting outdoors and being active is a fantastic outlet to divert all your extra energy. With so many options to boost your endorphins, exercise is a guaranteed cure for all things stress. Some of our favorite ways to get moving are taking a hike outside, going for a run, hitting the weights, or simply stretching with some yoga. Not only are these activities great for your physical health, but mental health as well — perfect for the aftermath of finals. 

Coming down from the peak stress of finals is difficult, so we hope that some of the  suggestions above help you become grounded back into the regular pace of life, whatever that looks like for you! Remember to take a deep breath and remind yourself: you did it!


Taylor Eldridge

Cal Poly '21

Taylor is currently a second year (junior) student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo majoring in English with a minor in Psychology. Besides HerCampus, many of her interests are diversified; she is either exercising, listening to music (probably both, simultaneously), or spending time with my family and friends. Taylor is also a part of the Fitness & Nutrition Team through Campus Health & Wellbeing.
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