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How to Make the Homestretch: Surviving the Last Weeks Before Finals

We’re so close to finals and, for some, this means that it’s almost time to go home. The weeks leading up to finals can be stressful and pass like molasses, or they can be the weeks that you run on adrenaline and ride the emotional rollercoaster ride. You may find yourself holed-up in Clapp or too familiar with cracks in the ceiling of Skinner. Whatever challenges lie ahead there are ways to rise above them, ways to help you keep going, and maybe even ways to thrive.

1. Get Rid of Distractions: This is the first and possibly the hardest step I recommend. As someone whose response to stress is flight, distractions like Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix are my kryptonite. If you’re like me, then I would recommend temporarily suspending your Hulu account, or trying some of these apps to help you focus while working on that essay. If you need to avoid using your phone for a while there are apps such as Forest in which you can plant a tree on your phone, but if you get distracted and close the app your tree dies. It effectively encourages you to stay away from spending hours on Candy Crush or Facebook. I used this app a lot last semester during finals week, and it not only helps you stay away from the vortex that is your phone, but it can also help you organize your study time. Let’s say you decide to study for one test for an hour and you set the app so that the tree grows for an hour. After the tree is grown, you can also check on your forest and see how much time you spent growing each one. After a day of studying it felt so gratifying to have a visual representation of the time you have spent. Also, check out this article for more life improving apps. 


2. Destress and Relax: Ok, so maybe don’t completely rid your life of all entertainment. You might need it a little after you spend five hours on a essay and consider skipping lunch because you need more time to work. Try meditation on Wednesdays from 5-6pm at the Wa Shin An, connected to the Eliot House. Make a list of all the things that make you smile. Google kittens, puppies, or, my favorite, baby elephants. After staring at your textbook for a few hours, grab a piece of paper or coloring book and let your mind relax while you doodle or color. Take a nap. Hug a stuffed animal. Plan a night out with your friends. Essentially, don’t forget to take care of yourself while taking care of your work!


3. Find Your Zone: The work of getting through finals is often a concerted effort of both time, energy, and focus. Getting rid of distractions will hopefully give you more time. Taking time to relax will hopefully give you more energy. Actually getting yourself in the zone while you’re studying is the last step, and the first step is finding a good study place. Do you work best in the library, in your room, or in an empty classroom? Do you like to study alone, with friends, or with a chef jeff? Is silence golden or do you need a power playlist? Is the soundtrack of Hamilton going to get you through the cramming? Or are you going to listen to the Star Trek soundtrack? Figuring this out can really help you study efficiently.


4. Find Your Support: Who do you call, who do you text, who do you find when you need a hug or advice? While friends and family can be amazing, there are other resources on campus. There are the Cultural Centers, Counseling Services, the Eliot House, your professors’ office hours, and AccessAbility Services. Having somewhere to go when you’re feeling overwhelmed or need advice in the next few weeks is very valuable. Use these or any other resources you can think of when and if you need help in the coming weeks.


5. Find Your Drive: Lack of motivation is more than just an inconvenience, and staying motivated until the end can be a challenge. Sometimes sheer force of will can get us going, but if that doesn’t work, writing down your goals can help. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “[She] who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” This finals season, it might help to ask yourself why you’re taking these finals. You want to gain this information so you can work in this field someday. You want to become a better writer. You just want to graduate so you can get a good job. You want to learn how to manage time better. Or you want to prove you can do this to yourself. Any “why” works.

I hope that these tips can help you thrive and feel fulfilled during the last few weeks of the semester. I would like to leave you with one last thing to remember: this too shall pass, even if you don’t. Triumphs, mistakes, luck, failures, whatever comes to you in the end may be forgotten entirely in thirty years, and even if it’s not, you always have the choice to try to make the most of what happens. Either way, best of luck!  

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