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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

With Thanksgiving break approaching and finals right around the corner, feeling overwhelmed as a student is almost to be expected. According to Research.com, “Finals and midterms accounted as the top source of stress for 31% of U.S. students.” Finals ranked as the highest stressors, with workloads and homework following. A trend can also be shown by looking at a wider scope, with American Addiction Centers claiming, “Overall, 88 percent of college students reported their school life to be stressful.” This study also found exams to be the largest source of stress for students.

Checking grades and preparing for the end of the semester can undoubtedly cause feelings of stress, which is natural. However, college students should check in on their mental health and take steps to feel as stress-free as possible heading into final exams. Though important, exams and grades should not be detrimental to students’ mental health. While not a comprehensive list, here are a few ways to relax between study sessions.

Take a walk

While it seems obvious, getting out of your dorm and taking advantage of fresh air can really help improve your mood. Walking around campus can take your mind off homework and give students a much needed break. Taking in the scenery, strolling along the quad or appreciating nature can give students a few minutes of peace in between cramming for exams.

Treat yourself

If you have to dedicate hours to studying for an exam or work on that huge final paper, grabbing a coffee or sweet treat may make the study session a little bit more bearable. Taking your backpack and study materials to the nearest coffee shop can provide a much needed change of scenery and motivation to complete your work. 

Retail therapy

While many students are on a budget and need to be financially responsible, a little retail therapy could go a long way when having a tough week. Recovering from the stress of finals could be helped by a shopping trip with friends or even a quick online shopping break. 

Read a good book

For those who enjoy reading, taking a break from studying to read your favorite novel could serve as a great and much-needed, mental break. Stopping by the local Barnes and Noble or campus library to pick your next read and diving into a story can be a perfect way to take your mind off finals and schoolwork.

Go for a drive

For students lucky enough to have their cars on-campus, going for a drive with the music turned up and the windows down can be cathartic. Campus is a busy and bustling place, and sometimes going somewhere quiet on your own can be just what you need for a mood boost.

Haley Maser

Illinois '26

I am a freshman at UIUC majoring in journalism. I am a member of the editorial and marketing teams for Her Campus.