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Prioritizing Mental Health During Finals

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SAU chapter.

I am far too guilty of stressing way too much when it comes to finals. A little anxiety gives you motivation to study, too much makes it so you can’t even focus enough to study. It is a fine line that can be tricky to manage. 

Am I in any way an expert, no, not at all. But these are the things I am prioritizing to keep my wits about leading up to and during finals.

Study in a variety of environments- now clearly, you know yourself better than I do, so if you can only study in the exact perfect conditions, this might not be for you. But I personally go stir crazy if I try to focus in one area for too long, and during stressful times I tend to isolate myself. So I would highly recommend moving study sessions around and adding people if you’ll be productive. Maybe study on your own in your room for a bit, then go to the beehive with a friend, and then wrap up the night in the library with a group. The variety of locations and social support can help me feel less overwhelmed and to focus in.

Sensory input- I personally have trouble focusing if the only thing I have to focus on is my work. I personally am not a music girlie while studying, but if you are, go for it! I like to have a little snack or a beverage while studying, even if it’s not caffeinated it helps me feel more awake and focused when there’s something else happening. I also like to have layers on when I study. Temperatures vary across locations and depending on the assignment my temperature can vary, so layers are very important to maintaining a consistent, comfortable temperature, and as an added bonus, it’s something to fiddle with.

Study breaks- I know we’ve all either seen it or done it, rewarding ourselves with 2 hours of scroll time after finishing one 15 minute assignment. No, not what I mean by this. After finishing an assignment, or whenever you know you need it, try to take a productive break. This could be going for a short walk around where you are studying, going to the bathroom and having a snack, stretching, filling your water bottle, listening to a motivating song, or another small 5-10 minute break to refresh and get ready to lock back in.

Set the mindset- do not, I repeat, do not sit down to study already mumbling about not caring and not wanting to do it. I know I love to complain about things, but sometimes, it’s better to keep the vibes positive. My friends can attest, when needed, I am a great faux optimist, that light is absolutely staying green and you are definitely going to get that assignment done in 30 minutes. Set yourself up for success, gaslight yourself if needed, but keep the mindset positive. This assignment is going to be so easy, this is gonna be nice and quick, if I don’t understand I’ll look at it again tomorrow or ask the professor. I know it sounds dumb, but a positive mindset from the get-go can really help with motivation from the beginning as opposed to an 11:30 freak-out.

Stick to a semi-normal schedule- I know it is very tempting to stay up all night to finish assignments, to only eat snacks, and to chug caffeine at midnight. But please, please, please, remember that sleep helps your brain make memories. Getting adequate sleep and nutrition leading up to stressful tests and presentations can help so much with feeling prepared and being able to handle the stress. Please try to remember to take care of yourself. Go to sleep at an okayish time, I’m not saying go to sleep at 10pm, but like before 3am would suffice. Eat real meals, not a 5-star masterpiece, but something that you don’t eat at your desk. Remember basic hygiene things that will make you feel more human during a chaotic time.

Start packing early- if you live on campus, make sure you don’t forget until the week of finals that housing closes on the 17th. Don’t panic. If you start doing things now, you will have much less to worry about. Start tidying up little knick-knacks into one container, have a rough idea of what you are realistically going to use and wear while you are still here, and pack up as much of the rest of it into a suitcase, boxes, or totes as you can. If you have family or friends nearby or coming by before you move out, see if they can come take some of the things you aren’t going to need home so there is less to worry about during finals. Pack up as you go, those clothes you haven’t touched all semester probably aren’t going to be your go-to outfit during finals week. The hobby supplies that have been gathering dust since spring break probably aren’t going to get much action during finals. Be realistic and pack as much of it as you can while you are less stressed rather than waiting to do it all the day of. 

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a list that might be able to help you stay more calm and focused during finals week. And remember: you are more than your grades. If finals don’t go your way, that is okay. 

Addison Frahm is a writer at HC @ SAU. Beyond HC, Addison is involved in cheer, SAAT, and Psychology Club. She also works at a local pizza place and works on campus in the Psychology Department. Addison is majoring in Forensic Psychology with an adult concentration. In her free time, Addison enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading books, and spending time outside. A fun fact about Addison is that she has a twin!