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Wellness > Mental Health

How to manage your mental health during finals season

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

Everyone’s least favorite part of the semester.

As the end of the semester approaches, most of us are probably preparing for finals week. Finals season is definitely one of the most stressful times of the year with the pile up of heavily weighted presentations, cumulative exams, papers, etc. Especially when trying to balance work and other commitments, it might feel like you’re overworked and exhausted all the time. But, it’s important to periodically evaluate your wellbeing throughout all of this. Everyone has different ways of managing their mental health, but here are a few that have worked for me and have also been recommended by researchers. Some of these may sound simple, but a little goes a long way!

1.    Get plenty of sleep

This one is obvious, but a lot of us ignore it (myself included). It’s crucial to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night especially during high-stress periods. It will help with recall during your exams and also increase your attention span. Pulling an all-nighter will likely increase your chances of forgetting important information, so definitely try to avoid that.

2.    Drink lots of water

Also obvious, but equally important. Drinking water consistently throughout the day will help with alertness and focus when it comes time for the exam. Water carries oxygen to our brains so that it can communicate with our bodies. It will also help keep your body at a normal temperature, which is especially important for people with test anxiety who may sweat during their exams.

3.    Eat healthy foods

Healthy snacks like nuts, granola bars, and fruit will make sure that you are full but not drowsy. The instant glucose helps with retaining information and focusing during study sessions. Dieticians recommend that students eat snacks high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Processed foods are more likely to make you feel tired and unmotivated.

4.    Take study breaks

Study breaks can improve mood and well-being which we all need during finals season. Researchers report that refreshing your brain periodically will allow for better productivity and aid in attention abilities. Studies also show that studying for 52 minutes and then taking a 17-minute break is the right balance for more extended study sessions.

5.    Consider going off of social media for a few days

I do this every semester for about seven days during finals season. I deactivate apps like Instagram and TikTok so that I don’t feel like I’m constantly being inundated with distractions like memes and reels. This can also help if you’re someone who suffers from FOMO, since you won’t be exposed to constant pictures of the fun people are having.  

6.    Don’t overexert yourself

This is easier said than done, but overdoing it generally comes at a cost, which is most often a decline in your mental health. While it’s important to put forth a lot of effort since it’s a very high stakes point in the semester, it shouldn’t get to a point where you’re sacrificing your wellbeing. If you feel like you might be putting too much pressure on yourself, you may want to check up on yourself.

7.    Reward yourself when it’s all over

Once you’ve officially made it to the finish line, take a moment to decompress and practice some much needed self-care. This one will look different for everyone, but make sure it’s something special that brings you joy! Whether it’s getting your nails done, spending a day at the pool, or taking yourself out to a nice dinner, you deserve it and should be so proud of yourself!

Samanvita Kolachana

George Mason University '25

Samanvita is a new staff writer for George Mason University's Her Campus chapter. She is a junior majoring in Psychology and Foreign Languages with a concentration in Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading, and spending time with friends.