As the end of Fall quarter approaches, some of us may have already begun getting into the holiday spirit by hanging up lights, decorating our houses inside and out, or watching some holiday movie classics with family and friends. We all get excited for the festivities, but one thing always remains in the way of our holiday happiness. And that’s the dreaded finals week.
We all want to avoid our final exams and go straight to enjoying the holidays, but we first have to get over this last academic obstacle. But how can we get over the pressures and stress that comes with finals week? How can we best take care of our mental health during this stressful week? And what’s the best way to study for the exams that count towards nearly half of our grade? Well… there’s no BEST way to prepare for final exams or to take care of ourselves. It all depends on your own pace of learning and how you practice self-care. By no means are we saying that we’re experts, because we’re not. But there are some very helpful tips that have improved our own study habits and could help YOU get the most out of finals week. So, get your hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or whatever warm beverage you enjoy the most ready and let’s learn how to improve your approach to finals week.
It’s important to know that some of these tips may work for some and not for others. And that’s okay. Try them out and find what works best for you. As long as you see progress doing what’s most comfortable for you, that’s all that matters! Now, without further ado, here are some tips to help you tackle finals week.
Time Management & Procrastination
During finals week, it’s especially hard to manage your time when you’ve got so much course material to review and study for in such little time. Maybe you have two final exams on the same day and you just can’t seem to figure out how you will study for each. Or maybe you left your 10-page final essay for the last minute and you’re panicking trying to finish it on time. We’ve all been there. We’ve all procrastinated with deadlines and exam dates. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. We can overcome procrastination and there are ways to significantly improve your time management skills that will help you meet your academic goals.
One helpful way to improve your time management is to create a daily/weekly planner or Google Calendar. Having a weekly schedule can help you set realistic goals for studying, eating, and resting. By visually seeing how you spend your time, you can easily remember and make time to accomplish all of your deadlines and commitments. You can also calendar based on how much energy you have at a certain time in the day. If you tend to get most of your work done in the morning, try to make time for your more difficult assignments at that time. Similarly, if you’re a night owl and have the most energy to do your work at night, then set your easier tasks for earlier in the day and your harder tasks later. By organizing your tasks based on your energy levels in the day, you can prevent burnout and complete harder assignments when you feel most productive.
2) To-Do Lists
Similar to calendaring, writing down your to-do list or using online tools like Google Keep or the Notion app will help you manage your work throughout the week. Looking at a list of all of your assignments for the week can be intimidating. So, breaking up your responsibilities for specific days of the week can be a little more encouraging, relieve some pressure, and allow you to remain on track for your goals. Setting a routine is an effective way for you to keep up with your assignments and to balance your time.
3) Avoiding Procrastination
We’ve all procrastinated before. Sometimes we get away with it by submitting an assignment just minutes (or seconds) before it’s due. Sometimes we don’t get away with it and we regret submitting an assignment late. No matter the situation, we end up placing so much pressure and stress on ourselves by putting things off for the last minute. And some of us repeat this cycle of procrastination. But, we can get rid of these bad habits and avoid procrastination by following some of these tips.
Study Tips & Self Care
It’s important to acknowledge that you have final exams and essays, but also spend time taking care of your mental health. Here are some ways to improve how you study and how to practice self-care during finals week.
1) Avoid Cramming & Pulling All-Nighters
We all tend to cram the night before an exam, but this can actually add more stress and exhaust more of your energy than needed. Sometimes there could be class material that takes up more studying time than we had anticipated or practice questions we forgot to do. This extra stress will only add to the anxiety already built up before studying and will potentially cause burnout earlier. It’s best to plan ahead with your studying time and create a schedule that accommodates for all the work you may need to do.
2) Take Breaks
Making sure that you allow some time for breaks so you can refresh yourself and regain some energy you need to continue your work. A quick 15-20 minute power nap or guided meditation can help re-energize yourself to finish your assignments. Don’t feel that you need to earn breaks. Take them when you feel you need them.
3) Get Enough Rest
It’s best to get the amount of sleep we need to recharge our bodies for the next day. All-nighters will only make us feel exhausted the next day and limit our productivity. So, resting our bodies will give us the energy to be as productive as we can be. It can be helpful to set a time for you to stop studying so that you can take care of yourself and go to bed on time.
4) Practicing Self Care
We all have our own ways of practicing self-care, so it’s important to do what works best for you and at your own comfort. Make sure to reward yourself for your accomplishments and attend to your mental health by trying out these tips. And remember that self care shouldn’t be earned, but done whenever you feel you may need it.
I hope that these tips are helpful to you and are things you can try out to improve your approach to finals week. Remember to take care of your mental health and acknowledge your accomplishments during this stressful week. The Mental Health Peer team wishes the best of luck with finals and happy holidays to you all! You got this!
- Jose, Mental Health Peer
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Mental Health Peers
We are the mental Health Peers from UCSB Counseling and Psychological services.