Every college student can agree on one thing: Exams are the worst. And sometimes at Northwestern, because of the quarter system, it can seem like midterm and finals season never ends. When you’re swamped with work and impending exams, it can be easy to hole up in the library and wallow in misery until the tests are over. However, it is not beneficial to let finals stress consume you, and despite what you’ve heard, some healthy procrastination can actually help your grade. Here are five de-stressing tips that will allow you to take a breather – and still ace those exams!
When you’re feeling stressed out and mentally exhausted, the last thing that you want to do is hit the gym. But I promise that doing so will wake you up and prepare you for a few more hours of productive studying. Exercise releases endorphins, a neurochemical that acts as a natural painkiller and brings about feelings of euphoria and general wellbeing. If that’s not enough, exercise is also known for its positive memory-boosting effects – so maybe that trip to the gym will be what helps you remember that tricky term on your psych exam.
2. Power Nap
Once again, this can seem counterproductive to your studying, but the benefits of a quick nap are endless. Sleep can refresh your brain and body, improving your mood and alertness. For a super quick boost, a nap between 10 and 20 minutes will leave you feeling refreshed. Don’t nap longer, though, or your body will enter the deeper sleep cycles, and you risk feeling groggy when you awake. If you have more time on your hands, or you’re extra tired, opt for a 90-minute nap. Ninety minutes allows for a full REM (rapid eye movement) cycle, and will refresh you for more productive study hours.
3. Get Some Fresh Air
This can be a tough one in the infamous Chicago winter, but taking a walk and getting a few breaths of crisp air can totally wake up your brain. Staying in a stuffy dorm room or library all day can make you stir crazy, and is definitely not conducive to good studying. A few minutes outside refreshes your brain with oxygen that helps with concentration and energy levels.
4. Talk to a Friend
Self-explanatory, I know, but a good chat with your best friends is always a positive study break. However, when you are super busy, it can be difficult to find time to hang out. I recommend setting aside a specific amount of time for a coffee or lunch break with a good friend. If you set a timer, you won’t get too distracted, and a few laughs or a quick rant session will get you ready to jump right back into your work.
5. Make a List
Journaling and list-making are the ultimate stress relievers. Jot down all of the things that are stressing you out, or the many things that you still need to study for. It may seem like a lot at first, but once your problems are out on paper, they will seem more manageable – or, at the very least, you will feel distanced from them. There’s nothing better than a long rant to let off some steam – so if all of your best friends are studying too, redirect that rant onto paper. You’ll feel so much better.
I know these are just a few great ways to relieve stress, and everybody has different ways to cope. But I hope that at least one thing on this list will make your exams a little more bearable.
Good luck and happy studying!