Thanksgiving has ended, the sleigh bells are ringing and once again, finals season is among us. It’s totally normal to be stressed, but here’s the thing: you shouldn’t be stressing for 24 hours a day, seven days a week going into finals season. School is important, but so is your mental health! Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks out there for you all to take a quick break, at least for a little bit.
Picture credit to Matthew Henry.
1. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is a common coping habit for people with anxiety, but it also helps with stress in general. Basically, take a deep breath in, and hold it for three seconds. Then exhale for three seconds. Repeat as often as you need, so that you can center and refocus yourself. If you want a visual aid to help time yourself, there are plenty of resources available online (when you’re doing those late night study sessions) or on your phone (when you’re on the go).
2. Remember to eat!
I don’t mean in the sense that you need to binge on everything you see (though I’ve been guilty of that many times), but if you’ve been living off of coffee for the past week, it might be time to give yourself some brain food. If you can, try to go for foods high in protein—such as meat, beans or peanut butter—but if you’ve gotta treat yourself, then you’ve gotta do you.
3. And sleep!
Okay, yes the urge is there to pull an all-nighter the night before a big project or exam to get those last minute details or last-minute studying, and doing that once or twice is okay. But doing that consistently? No! Get some sleep in, just so you don’t overtire yourself and are left unable to focus on the exam or project or presentation or whatever. Besides, your pillow and comforter can sometimes be the most comforting friends you have, if you know what I’m saying.
4. Little bits of exercise
Please, please, PLEASE do not spend all day sitting! Get up, stretch, walk your cat/dog/cow, have an impromptu dance party with your friends, but remember to move around! Your brain doesn’t like sitting down and being cooped up all day, and neither do you.
5. And finally, TALK
If you’re honestly stressed about finals, and none of the above tips worked out for you, then the best thing you can do is talk. Vent to a friend, or a family member, or even call the UIC Crisis Hotline if nobody else is listening. Don’t let your stress fester up on the inside and leave you a wreck. Talk and release some of it!