Ways to Overcome Stress During Finals

Audrey Vint
Audrey Vint

It can be hard to study when a cat paces back and forth across your keyboard asking for attention, or when your dog literally takes a bite out of your homework because it fell off a cluttered desk onto the floor. The stress of final exams is real. What was once clear organization and spurts of confident motivation has turned to pure disorganization and becoming so overwhelmed that nothing gets done except right before it is due.

Thankfully, December is here, and a new year is on the horizon. One last push is all it takes.

Here are some things that I do to get through finals week:

Try a new relaxation technique. My favorite thing to do when I get completely overwhelmed is to do the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown. Name five things that you can see. Name four things that you can touch. Name three things that you can hear. Name two things that you can smell. Name one thing that you can taste. Doing this should help you bring back all of your senses into the moment, ultimately grounding yourself. 

Light a candle and make a playlist. This can help set a level of comfort before getting to work. Finals are stressful, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by everything that professors are trying to add last-minute. Having a candle with a comforting scent and soft music in the background as white noise can bring one back to reality.

Find the right place and time for you. This is a key factor now that many students are learning from home. Finding a place that is neutral and lacks interruptions is best to study and test in. Preferably, outside of the bedroom is best, so that the stress of school does not interfere with the place where you rest. Additionally, try studying during various times of the day and find out what works best for you. Some people work better in the morning because they like sunlight. While others may study after dinner because they feel more productive in the evening.

Remember that everyone is human, including you! Your peers are feeling the same things that you are. Trying to keep everything organized and under control right now can be difficult. So, in these moments of intense stress, make sure to give yourself and others some grace. This includes professors too! They are bombarded by last-minute emails from students, trying to get everything graded before the end of the semester, and at the same time preparing for their next courses. Please be gracious.

Try something new. Find something that will help you take a break from studying. For example, try cooking a new recipe or baking yourself a sweet treat. A satisfying meal is always good for the soul, as many grandmas would say. Once you are done, find a quiet space to refocus on your finals again.

Finally, remember that you CAN do this. Theodore Roosevelt once wisely said, “Believe that you can, and you’re halfway there.” Motivation can be the hardest thing to find when stressed out. However, once the motivation is there, all you must do is do it. Believe in yourself – you got this!