6 Ways to Practice Self-Care During Finals

The only thing left standing between us and the end of the quarter are finals. With freedom and grades on the line, you’re probably finding yourself wedged between a rock and a hard place, or studying and more studying. While the stress may press you into forgetting to practice healthy habits, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. This list offers a few ways in which you can practice self-care during and leading up to finals. BTW: you’re going to do great, so don’t stress too much.

1. Get enough sleep

You’ve all probably been told how important it is to get around eight hours of sleep a night, and it’s even more important as finals week approaches. While you may feel that cramming all night is essential, avoiding an all-nighter whenever possible will keep you sane and healthy — after all, getting sick won’t make finals week any more fun. Getting extra hours of sleep over the extra hours of studying will help improve your concentration both when studying and when taking your finals. Plus, maintaining a normal sleep schedule will make it easier to get up each morning and tackle the day. If you’re struggling to do this, power naps of around 20 minutes are proven to provide bursts of energy.

2. Take study breaks doing things you enjoy

It’s essential to take plenty of breaks when you’re in the process of studying for finals and to spend this free time doing what you like to do. There are many different techniques, such as the Pomodoro Technique which encourages a 5 minute break for every 25 minutes of work, and lots of apps to help you get organized, but bottom-line: it’s essential to give yourself enjoyable (but still managed) breaks. It’s totally cool to spend some time taking quizzes about what type of bread you are or scroll through Instagram, but make sure you don’t get carried away and end up procrastinating. I also find that sometimes if I’m so overwhelmed with responsibilities, multi-tasking during my breaks, e.g. watching Netflix while folding laundry, can help me step away from homework and relax but still be a little productive.

3. Eat healthy foods, but comfort foods too

It’s always important to make sure you’re eating well and getting the proper vitamins and nutrients each day, but it’s also perfectly okay to indulge in some of your favorite foods too. There’s no need to feel guilty if you want some garlic fries or a cupcake or two at the end of a long study sesh, just remember to eat certain foods in moderation and get your daily fruits, veggies, and proteins. Apples and peanut or almond butter, protein bars (watch out for added sugar), and veggies and hummus are just a few healthy study snacks to get you through the chaos.

4. Drink enough water

Keeping hydrated is key to keeping your body and brain feeling good. There are many different responses to how much water you should drink in a day, depending on factors such as exercise, environment, or what else you may be drinking or eating, as 20% of our daily liquid intake comes from food. A good goal to shoot for is around eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but I also recommend getting a big reusable water bottle and aim to refill it several times throughout the day.

5. Check out de-stressing events on campus

Various campus organizations and departments usually offer all sorts of different finals relief events during the big week, ranging from free snacks to craft workshops to our all-time favorite finals week event at UCD: therapy dogs at Shields! Keep an eye out on Facebook, email newsletters, and the campus event calendar for some fun and free de-stressing opportunities.​

6. Be kind to yourself

Perhaps the single most important way to practice self-care during this stressful time is to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Avoid negative thoughts or guilting yourself over little things whenever possible — you are a smart and wonderful human being that deserves respect, so make sure that you respect yourself too. Treat yourself to a face mask, a hot bath, a warm cup of hot cocoa, or whatever else your heart may desire. No matter what, finals week doesn’t mean you should have to stop doing things that make you feel good — if anything, now is the time to do more things that make you happy.​