Keep Your Brain Intact: Five Ways to Reduce Stress During Finals

By Bailey M. Gamberg

Spaces 5

It’s December. You’re stressed. You’re freaking out. You’re madly calculating what the absolute minimum grade you have to get on your final is. You’re clutching at your hair in frustration at a table in the KC. You’re lying in bed trying to recall vocabulary terms and equations before you fall asleep. Eventually, the stress feels nearly impossible to overcome.

One of the best ways to increase your studying efficiency is to take necessary, relaxing breaks. Most students just open up a social media tab on their laptop or start texting a friend to take a “break” from their work. Although these technological habits can distract you from studying for the time being, they are not the most effective ways to handle the stress. Instead, here are five other options that will take ten-minutes or less.

  1. Eat a healthy snack. Either munch on something that you brought along with you or head over to the coffee shop nearby. While coffee may be your immediate go-to, most locations offer healthy options such as fruit parfaits, granola bars, protein packs, etc. Choosing a healthy snack will provide nutrients for your body and give you more brain power.
  2. Listen to peaceful sounds. Although most people are fans of rock, EDM, pop, and other modern genres of music, sometimes listening to Classical can be extremely calming and focusing. Soothing tunes without lyrics can aid in the relaxation process. For people who really can’t stand Classical music, another stress-reducing option is to Google relaxing sounds, such as a light rainstorm, wind and birds in the forest, or waves on the shoreline.
  3. Look at things that make you happy. Go through that old photo album of your spring break trip or type “cute baby animals” into a search engine. Go ahead and smile at pictures of your friends laughing or a lion cub yawning. These will help serve a reminder that there is light ahead… one week after Dead Day.
  4. Take a light nap. 10-minute power naps can be the most beneficial type of nap in order to improve cognitive performance; however, most people find themselves unable to stick to just 10 minutes. If you believe that you have enough willpower to keep going after being rudely awoken by your alarm, then go ahead and reap the benefits of a short nap.
  5. Perform deep-breathing exercises. One of the most effective slow breathing exercises is the 4-7-8 strategy, which includes inhaling for 4 seconds, holding it in for 7 seconds, then slowly exhaling for 8 seconds. Begin by breathing in through your nose and then breathing out through your mouth. When breathing deeply, try to focus on your core muscles and think about breathing into your stomach rather than your lungs.

Most of all, remind yourself that although finals are important, they are not the pinnacle of your life. You are not a number. You are not the number of credits you’ve taken, the amount of stress weight you’ve gained, or your semester GPA. Just try and stay as calm as possible because your mental health will always be more important than any test grade.

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