A Finals Self-Care Checklist

Finals week is a hectic, stressful time. Depending on the semester and the classes you’re taking, some finals weeks are far more challenging than others. However, no matter how hard or easy finals week may seem, prioritizing self-care should be part of it. It’s easy to feel guilty for taking time to care for yourself when you have so much studying to do. For me, it’s even easier to forget to do so all together when you’re so hyper-focused on passing each test you have. On the other hand, sometimes it can be tempting to take too many breaks and spend too much time away from studying for the sake of “self-care”, especially if you have a habit of procrastinating. However, in both cases, taking the right amount of time to step away from working is essential, and can be helpful in reducing the stress of finals week overall. 

So as we all take steps to care for ourselves this time around, here’s a list of self-care ideas that you may want to incorporate into your finals week routine. 

Have snacks lined up 

Some people like to snack while they study, some in between studying. Either way, having your favorite snacks around can help keep your energy up, giving you the fuel you need to push through study sessions. Whether it’s something healthy like a piece of fruit, or a pack of Oreos, or even your can’t-live-without-it drink from Starbucks, it’s always good to have some snacks handy throughout the week. 

Create a playlist 

If you usually like to listen to music while studying, having a playlist ready may be a good way to care for yourself during this time. I like to gather music that I know will help keep my spirits up and morale high, helping me stay focused but also boosting my mood when things start to get a little overwhelming. 

Get enough sleep 

I know a lot of people pull all-nighters if necessary, but for me personally, I don’t think I ever could. Sleep is so important on any given day and is especially important during finals week. Good sleep is crucial at this time when you're expected to be alert and focused in order to perform at your very best. During a long night of studying, at some point, you have to draw the line and say, “okay I’m done studying for the day,” and know that doing so will only help you to do well. Staying up too late to keep studying may hurt more than it helps because trying to take a test while you can barely keep your eyes open probably won’t end well. Lack of sleep negatively impacts learning, attention, memory and vigilance--all of which we need to be functioning properly when taking finals. 

Take breaks 

During my time at Loyola, I learned the 50-10 rule when it comes to taking breaks. Each hour, after about 50 minutes of studying, it’s good to take the last ten minutes of the hour to step away and take a short break. Of course, some breaks may need to be shorter or longer, but I’ve found this rule to work well for those times when I’m so deeply invested in my studying that I almost forget to pause after a while. Walk around, do some deep breathing, draw, listen to music, or whatever works--just make sure you stop to rest and reset at some point. 

Schedule time to workout 

If working out is usually part of your self-care routine throughout the normal school week, don’t change that just because you have finals going on. Exercise can boost your mood, give you increased energy and act as a stress reliever. Therefore, finals week would be the perfect time to work out in order to combat the stress and keep you energized as you power through. 

Find a study and self-care buddy 

Having someone to study with is great, but you and your study buddy could also help each other stay on top of your self-care habits. Having someone around to hold you accountable or check in every now and then makes it more likely that you’ll follow through with your self-care plans.