Handling Finals Week Stress

With finals week coming up, many of us are finding ourselves stress eating and snapping at our loved ones. The workload at the end of the quarter is always a nightmare and it can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, stress is sometimes unavoidable. Luckily, it is always manageable.

1. Meditate. If you haven't meditated recently (or ever) start small so if doesn't feel daunting. You can download the app Headspace and do five-minute ones to start or just to get you through the day. If you're looking for something a little more thorough, go on YouTube and do the awesome 20 minute “Wheel of Awareness,” a guided meditation by Dr. Dan Seigel.

2. Yoga. Yoga with Adriene is a YouTube channel that has yoga routines for every conceivable issue as well as 30-day ones if you want to stick to a slightly more long-term goal. There are videos for beginners, for stress, for heartbreak, and hundreds more. Also, Adrienne is a goddess and she will make sure you don’t feel stupid. She frequently reminds the viewer that it doesn't matter what it looks like and reminds us not to go into “Toxic Thought World.” Yoga is helpful for dealing with anxiety through mindfulness and for building physical strength and flexibility. When I do yoga with frequency, I do not have to deal with back pain (which is amazing for my spinally destroyed body).

3. Do things early if possible. If it is not, use caffeine. Try starting your paper on Google docs on your phone when you're on the way home from class as soon as you get the assignment. Our maybe try to get the thing done several days before the due date. If it is too late for that advice this time around, get a coffee. Even if you're not sleepy, the stimulant can help with your focus. But don't give yourself the jitters. That will just be distracting.

4. Eat well and exercise. If you are taking care of your body, you are taking care of your mind. Make sure you’re doing cardio and eating plenty of vegetables. Anxiety is an imbalance and you will increase your chances of becoming a wreck if you let your body get out of whack. Also, if you are not worried about how unhealthy your diet is or how you haven't gone to the gym in a month and you're gaining weight, that's less stress to deal with.

5. Get as much sleep as possible. I know eight hours a night can be an unachievable dream, but definitely try. Sleeps importance in the functioning of your brain cannot be overstated. Everything from your concentration and memory to your emotional state and social functioning will be in better shape if you are getting enough sleep.

6. Make small goals. I know a 10-page paper is overwhelming. So instead, decide that you’re going to come up with five points that you want to make in your essay. Studying for a whole final is going to destroy the strongest among us. Instead, decide you will get the vocab from chapter 11 memorized. And after you do these things, if you’re on a roll, don’t break it! Don’t give yourself the break you promised yourself unless you really need it. You need to stay on this ball of productiveness. But if you really do need a break, take it. We can't do our best when we're burnt out. Maybe use it to do one of those short meditations and then get back on track.

7. Be nice to yourself. If you are struggling with something, don't call yourself stupid, tell yourself that you're showing strength for working so hard. If you are having trouble sticking to your goals, don't call yourself lazy, try and find out what your mental obstacle really is and try and remove it. Positive self-talk is important, and not just for managing stress. It is important because the world is a much more pleasant place when the people on it are not torturing.