Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

How Not to Go Insane in Finals Season: 5 Healthy Stress-Coping Mechanisms

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

I’ll admit I have had a few near mental breakdowns this semester. The increasing panicked feeling when the pressure of getting good grades on all of your growing mountains of assignments feels all too much to handle. With record-breaking rainfall over the past few months, many of us are left feeling gloomy and unmotivated right before the couple of weeks where it “matters most”… finals season.

This, however, isn’t an article to cause further distress. Here are a few of my favourite ways to unwind and unload some of that stress in the healthiest manner possible.


1) Baking

I am a stress baker. It is the number one thing I do when I think I should be studying. This is probably the case because it makes me feel productive, while not actually being productive in the activity I should be facing. However, it is important to remember to take breaks, to allow your mind to take a breather and not get overwhelmed. And why not take a baking break? Try following healthy recipes to sustain that brain power over a long study session. Plus, warm, freshly baked muffins is a nice pick-me up in the middle of a long day.


2) Exercise

Groan. I know… the dreaded eight-letter word we all avoid. Finding the motivation to take time out of your study period to sweat and exert your energy in a gym or exercise class seems like the last thing you want to do in finals season. However, I find it to be one of the most effective in shoeing away stress. Exercise, even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic activity, releases chemicals in the brain which improve mood, reduce stress, and improve the ability to cope with stress. You’ll feel good after, I swear.


3) Be Social

It is so easy to lock yourself in your apartment and only move within your 600 square-foot personal space when deadlines are looming. Your friends call you to go out, but you say no because you’re in “study mode”. They know not to contact you for the next week. Although it is probably smart to stay in the night before your exam, some social contact is necessary to keep you sane. Just can’t seem to focus one afternoon? Call up a friend and meet for coffee. Chances are it will help you feel refreshed and you’ll end with a new motivation to help you keep plugging along.


4) Make Plans for the Future

I realize that this one may be a hit-or-miss depending on the person. Some people fear the future, change, and making plans altogether. However, I’m one of those people who continued using a weekly planner outside of grade school. I find comfort in knowing I have allotted enough time to get everything done, and that I won’t be scrambling at the last minute to hand something in. Hand-in-hand with this practical sort of planning, I love planning future activities and trips that give me something to look forward to. Finals season feels like a never-ending few weeks; a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight. Planning a weekend camping trip or ice-cream date with my friends helps me maintain perspective that (as my mom says): this too shall pass. Your struggles are temporary, and carefree, exciting times are ahead of you. 


5) Find a Happy Study Spot

I only discovered this one a couple years ago and wish I had taken advantage of it earlier. For years I would study solely at my kitchen table, and thus it became a dreaded place for me to sit; knowing that once I was there, I would have to get down to work. But a few years ago studying abroad, my friends asked me if I wanted to meet them at a coffee shop to work on our papers. The environment was beautiful, cozy, and free of distraction (apart from conversation with my friends, of course). I found myself working there for the majority of the day and being far more productive. Since then, I have become a regular at the coffee shop and bubble tea shop by my house and getting school work done has become far less of a chore. Caffeine and sweets addicts enter at your own risk, and wallets beware.


Lastly, remember to breathe and keep in mind that grades are not everything and do not define you. Smile, and use some healthy stress-coping mechanisms to keep your emotional well-being on the front-burner.

Laura is a third-year Linguistics major at Simon Fraser University who has ambitions to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. She has studied in both Ireland and Scotland and is often asked "how long are you home this time?" for her inability to shake the travel bug. Her other passions include musical theatre and spending time with her best friends; Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey. She can be followed further on Instagram at @lauradandy.