Tips and tricks to deal with approaching stress of finals

Everyone’s worst nightmare when it comes to finals in college unfortunately became a reality for Mallory Kloucek. Even now as a working professional at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in South Dakota, Kloucek recalls the haunting story of her expereince like it was yesterday.
The morning of Kloucek’s final arrives, and she wakes up in complete panic. She’s slept through her final exam. Racing to her all-to-familiar college campus of University of South Dakota, Kloucek starts banging on the door to the classroom frantically. Luckily, her professor shows grace and allows her to make up her exam. Although the initial fear of the event passes, the anxious and uneasy feelings surrounding the memory have not subsided, even to this day.
Everyone that has ever been in finals season in college knows the constant feelings of worry and pressure that come along with the countless final exams, papers, projects and the list that never seems to end. In terms of taking care of oneself during this period, the range of self-care practices can look different depending on the individual.
“Self-care can be very difficult sometimes and isn’t always glamorous,” senior Hailey Nold says.
Could self-care look like a face mask and a movie in between studying times? Sure. However, it is important to remember the individual nature when reading through the various study and self-care tips given by those who have had their fair share of finals.

Get in touch with how you best process information, then do it.

Cramming in order to retain the information required for an hour-long test or 15-page paper is a common habit when studying for finals. However, in terms of actually retaining that information long-term, most of us probably won’t.
“If you have an understanding just how you comprehend and how you process information, and if you haven’t discovered that yet, be open to what that is,” Kloucek says. “That’s what’s going to help retain that information as you leave college as well.”

Utilize study resources and not just during finals week.

Looking back on finals now as the assistant director of admission at Augustana University, Wendy Mamer is proud of how she used her resources.
“I utilized tutors from the start to maximize my academic potential versus just going to them during finals week when I needed to do well on something,” Mamer recalls.
This strategy minimizes the feelings of panic that come with waiting until the last second to ingest the knowledge and make us of those that have expertise knowledge on the subject you are studying.

Organize your load.

Back to cramming. Many students are all guilty of it. Break. It. Up.
“Try to section it out so you’re not as stressed and it’s easier to break [the study load] up and not feel like you’re tackling everything at once,” Nold suggests.
Spread your load out to study for one chapter per night, leading up to the final exam. Not only is it less overwhelming, but you’re most likely going to remember the information longer-term versus cramming it all the night before the exam.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

The old saying goes that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Although Theodore Roosevelt was most likely not talking about finals in college specifically, the saying still applies.
Sophomore Courtney Chrystal reminds us of the importance of just checking in with yourself.
“I know the most harmful thing for a lot of students is that they are measuring themselves to other students and those student’s performances,” Chrystal says. “Just know that no one is expecting you to do anything that isn’t just the best you can be doing at that time.”

Nourish your body, whatever that looks like for you.

“There were times when I was studying that I couldn’t even remember the last time I went to the bathroom, or I realized I hadn’t drank water in x amount of hours, I had to skip lunch like that is so unhealthy,” Nold says.
In order to have brain power your body needs power too. Don’t forget to go back to your basics. Your body will thank you later.

Remember that you are more than a grade.

Grades are important, but they aren’t everything. Of course working hard is crucial in finals week, but taking care of yourself should be a main priority too.
“At the end of the day, grades aren’t a holistic reflection of you,” Mamer says. “The difference between a grade is not worth sacrificing your peace of mind.”

Whether it’s waking up late the morning of your final exam or something that you may deem potentially worse, finals season – and the stress that comes with it is temporary. You can do this, but take care of your body and mind in the process.

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