Finals studying tips focused on your wellness
While the beauty of spring unfolds, with flowers blooming and birds chirping, one dreadful week still looms over college students: finals. It’s a daunting time, especially when you throw in adjusting to in-person finals in a post-pandemic era. The good news is, there are ways to manage your stress and anxiety around finals. Here are a few wellness and relaxation finals tips you can implement this exam season.
Visualization involves you picturing what you want to achieve. Elite athletes even use this tool to help with performance. First, write down exactly what outcome you are wishing for, such as doing well on finals. Include a highly detailed description of your goal, complete with sensory imagery for all five senses. Then, assign an emotion to your desired outcome. Perhaps you feel proud of your performance on finals, or relief that they are over, or happiness that summer is starting. The final step is to consistently visualize your outcome leading up to finals. Start two weeks before, and take just 5-10 minutes every day to close your eyes and allow yourself to experience every emotion and sensation attached to doing well on finals. Taking the time to think about and visualize yourself succeeding on finals can help you reach your goal.
2. Guided imagery
Another one of our favorite finals tips is using guided imagery. Guided-imagery is an excellent stress-management tool that can be used to ease some of the tension surrounding finals. Whenever you feel an incoming wave of stress, visualize yourself in a setting that brings you peace and calm. Transport yourself to this place and allow yourself to be entirely present. If you are on a beach, hear the crashing waves, feel the heat of the sun on your bare skin, smell the hint of coconut that lingers from your sunscreen, taste the salty water on your lips, and touch the sand underneath your fingertips. Whether you are in your dorm room, the library, or the exam classroom, guided imagery can help you relax and reduce stress.
3. Progressive muscle relaxation
If you have 15 minutes and a bit of space around you, progressive muscle relaxation is an effective technique to utilize for relaxation and stress reduction. This technique is done through a series of tensing and relaxing of each muscle group in your body. The relaxing phase calls for a release of tension from that body part, so by the end of the session, any tightness or stress has left your body. Try this technique out before going to bed as it can aid with insomnia and sleeping trouble as well. We recommend starting out this finals tip with a guided progressive muscle relaxation until you get comfortable with the technique.
Finals season tends to call for long hours of sitting in front of your laptop screen or textbook. Making time for daily exercise during this time can be hard and overwhelming. Our finals tip is incorporating a 10 minute yoga flow into your routine for a simple, quick, and effective way to get your body moving and relieve some stress. Yoga poses help to relieve physical tension within your body, as well as any mental tension you may have been unconsciously holding onto. A 2018 study found that women who practiced Hatha yoga three times a week for 4 weeks experienced significant declines in stress, anxiety and depression (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843960/). An added bonus is some research shows yoga can help improve body image. If you’re in a pinch, try out this 7 minute yoga flow for stress relief.
5. Take breaks
The mentality around finals season is go, go go. With everyone on campus rushing to complete final projects, write final papers, and study for exams, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time to press pause even for a moment. Taking breaks is crucial however. Your mind, body, and soul all need to reset and recharge, especially in high-stress times. So what can you do to ensure you are taking sufficient breaks? One finals studying tip is to use a timer to control your studying. For every hour you study, take a quick 10 minute break. Use this time to rest your eyes from looking at a screen and grab some water and a snack. Once you have repeated this two or three times, take a longer 45 minute break. Use this break to take a long walk, make yourself a hearty meal, or listen to some relaxing music. Breaks are not a waste of time as taking frequent breaks minimizes stress and promotes increased productivity, creativity, and focus.
6. Fuel yourself
Fueling your body with nutrient dense meals and snacks is crucial during high-stress times like finals week. Your brain and body need a sufficient amount of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in order to keep you energized, focused, and calm. For breakfast, try to include slow-digesting carbohydrates to keep you feeling full all morning long such as protein oatmeal or hard boiled eggs with whole wheat toast and fruit. Keep up your protein intake throughout the day by including greek yogurt or lean meat along with your fruits and vegetables for lunch. For dinner, you can include a protein such as chicken, fish, or tofu with a leafy green salad and rice on the side. Don’t forget to fuel in between meals as well! Here are some of our favorite snack ideas:
- Baby carrots or pita bread with hummus
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Brown rice cakes with honey
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Strawberry banana protein smoothie
- Nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
- Homemade granola bars
- Turkey and cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla
The most important thing during this time is to give yourself grace around food. Your brain and body need extra fuel so honor your hunger and do not punish yourself for it.
If you need extra support around stress or anxiety, Best Within You Therapy & Wellness has psychologists that specalize in providing therapy for anxiety. You are welcome to reach out to schedule a therapy appointment.
Finals Tips Takeaway
Finals season is a stressful and anxious time for all college students. Thankfully, incorporating our finals tips such as visualization, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation, combined with yoga, taking breaks, and fueling your body can significantly reduce your stress during this time. Try these techniques out this finals season and good luck on exams!
– This article was written by Rumi Petrova from Best Within You Therapy & Wellness