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Wellness > Mental Health

Finals Szn Is Over: Here’s How To Relax & Reset

After the dumpster fire that was finals week, it’s safe to say that we all need a little reset. These past two or three weeks between breaks are one of the most mentally, physically, and emotionally draining experiences of the school year. Many colleges are seriously lacking in the mental health department, rarely giving students the proper resources during such a difficult season. The amount of “make sure you’re taking care of yourself babe, mental health is so important!” emails that I have in my inbox is crazy. Unfortunately, that thirty-minute coloring session in the student union is not really going to cut it…

So if you are feeling overwhelmed post-finals, you’re not alone bestie. Here are some ways that you can destress, unwind, and find your center after a hectic finals week.

Give yourself unconditional permission to relax.

There’s so much pressure from hustle culture to constantly be productive. In actuality, this is only going to lead to more burnout. If you’re anything like me, even when you finish all of your work and allow yourself to take a break, there may be this nagging feeling that you’re wasting time. But taking care of yourself is never unproductive. Challenging this voice and taking time for yourself is so important. You just got through some of the toughest weeks as a college student — give yourself some credit! 

Check in with yourself and ask what you need at this moment. Are you someone who feels energized after completing all of their finals? Maybe you want to get together with some friends and have a girl’s night. Are you someone who needs to close their laptop completely and disconnect? Pick up that book you’ve been eyeing and complete your 2022 reading goal (I’ve still got a long way to go with mine, unfortunately). Are you someone who needs time to mindlessly scroll or binge-watch something? Everyone’s needs are different during this time, and finding the best way for you personally to unwind will do wonders for your mental health post-finals.

Treat yourself to some of your favorite things.

Even if I just did the bare minimum, I love to reward myself. Made my bed? I deserve a coffee. Checked one thing off my to-do list? Time to watch an episode of The White Lotus. Surviving finals week is huge, and it’s cause for celebration. Whether you have a comfort meal that you love or a gift for yourself this season that you’ve had your eye on, give yourself something that will give you a little mood boost. Treat yourself to the perfect self-care night – light a candle and enter your well-deserved hibernation era.

Sleep, sleep, sleep!

Those late-night library study sessions add up, and your body is most likely sleep-deprived. Getting your sleep schedule back on track is a must. So, delete those alarms on your phone and let yourself sleep in as much as you need. Putting your phone in a different room will help you stop the endless TikTok scrolling that happens right before bed (me too, bestie) if you want to take it a step further. 

Drink plenty of water and eat good food.

I’m pretty sure that cold brew has officially made it into my bloodstream after finals week. And as much as I love a good holiday drink, it isn’t doing my anxiety any favors. Now that we don’t need to be wired in order to power through exams, take a much-needed caffeine break and hydrate as much as possible. Along with the mental stress that comes with finals season, it takes a huge toll on our physical health as well. Prioritize eating regular meals with nutritious foods that make you feel good. 

Get together with the besties.

Some of the best stress relief comes from hanging out with friends. With everyone running on different schedules and studying for different classes during finals week, chances are you’ve been isolated from one another. Whether you’re lounging around someone’s house, attending a friend’s holiday party, or going out to the bars until 3 a.m., being around other people and releasing that pent-up stress will help your mental health. No matter what way you choose to socially recharge, your mind will thank you.

Get some movement in where you can.

For some of us (me), our bodies are so physically drained after finals that there is no possible way exercise is happening. But for the gym girlies out there, getting a good workout in can be energizing and stress-relieving. Any movement that you get after the stress of finals week is good movement. It doesn’t have to be a hot girl walk, it could even be a sad girl stroll. 


Replying to @dontstrainyaself karma is a BRAND NEW taylor swift treadmill strut workout 🫶🏼 this one’s 31 minutes of midnights – let me know if you try it out!! @Taylor Swift #taylorswift #tsmidnights #swifttok #treadmillstrut

♬ Anti-Hero – Taylor Swift

Journal about your post-finals feelings.

Finals can lead to some very overwhelming thoughts and emotions. You may feel like you haven’t even had time to process any of them. At least for me, the study grind took up all of my mental space. For those who struggle with high-functioning anxiety or depression, finals week can be especially difficult. It can feel like you’re completely running on autopilot. Taking time after finals to reflect on the past few weeks may help you recenter yourself. Journaling could also give you a much-needed release. How are you feeling now that finals are over? How do you feel about the new year? Writing down any worries and concerns about your grades or the future will get them out of your head and out on paper. It may stop you from meditating on them. 

Challenge any anxious thoughts that you may have.

Even after the storm of finals season passes, some of us may be left with lingering anxieties. If you didn’t feel particularly confident about one of your exams, it can be hard to reel in the anxious thoughts. Feeling like you got a bad grade and sitting in that discomfort is one of the most challenging parts of being a college student. It may feel like the end of the world, but try to remind yourself that your grades are not the only reflection of your intelligence. One bad grade doesn’t make or break you, and they don’t determine your success in any way.

Try not to let toxic productivity culture ruin the holiday season for you. Surviving finals is a huge achievement, and we all deserve to relax and enjoy our time with friends and family stress-free! Take care of yourself, besties.

Julia is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Media and Professional Communications with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies. She loves to go thrifting, grab a coffee with friends, and go on walks with her dog!