How to Manage College Finals Stress

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Finals week is coming up. Let us guess: you're feeling stressed. Don't worry, you're not alone. This blog post will help you manage those feelings of stress and pressure.

Finals Week: The Final Straw

Finals week is a difficult time for all college students, but some might experience more stress than others. Whether it's because you have an especially packed finals week schedule, you're taking a particularly difficult course, you have test anxiety, or you simply tend to get stressed, managing high stress levels during finals time is an important ability to develop. Check out these tips for how to do just that.

Practice Self-Talk & Self-Care

The most important thing you can do when experiencing an excess of stress is to be kind and take care of yourself. While it might sound like self-care isn't worth prioritizing during the busy finals season, it's actually all the more important to take care of yourself during this stressful, difficult time.

Self-care begins with self-talk. Instead of telling yourself that there's no way you're going to pass all of your finals, have some patience with yourself. Practice positive self-talk, letting yourself know that you're trying your hardest, that you deserve love and kindness, and that you'll be able to manage finals week successfully. Use your self-talk skills while standing in front of a mirror. (Really, it works!)

A college student practices self care during finals

There are also other, more active forms of self-care that you can practice. These can be as simple as taking a hot shower, applying a detox face mask, listening to calming music, and treating yourself to some fragrant tea.

Other free or relatively inexpensive options include:

  • Doing yoga
  • Drinking enough water
  • Going on a walk in a nice area
  • Meditating
  • Treating yourself to a massage or sauna
  • Watching a beloved movie

Create an Academic and Social Emergency Plan

Another important thing to know during finals week is that you're not alone. Your professors, TAs, student advisors, and campus mental health specialists can all be consulted for academic advice. All of these people are specifically employed and trained to help you. In fact, if your finals week schedule is particularly challenging, you might even be able to get an exam moved or a deadline pushed back! You'll never know if you don't ask.

Further, be sure to utilize your support system - that is, your friends, family, loved ones, and even pets. These people are here to help you manage difficult times, and giving them a call or spending a bit of time with them can do wonders to calm your nerves. Finally, remember that not only are all of the other students at your college going through the same finals experience, but they may also be studying for the same test! So lean on your peers for advice and maybe try studying together, which can help all of you manage the experience.

A college student asks for help because of finals stress

Use First Aid for Negative Thought Patterns

Another tip is to change the way that you think about your college finals. You're probably familiar with the following thought pattern: ''If I don't get a good grade on this final, I won't get a good grade in this class. If I don't get a good grade in this class, I won't graduate from college. If I don't graduate from college, I won't get a good job. If I don't get a good job, I'll have a terrible life.''

Naturally, if you think this way, finals are going to be an incredibly stressful time for you. Take some of the pressure off by reminding yourself of a few important facts:

  • This one test won't necessarily make or break your class grade.
  • Even if you do poorly in the class, you can always retake it.
  • Even if you have a bad grade in one class, your overall college GPA won't necessarily suffer.
  • Even if you have a poor GPA, you can still succeed in the working world.
  • There's much more to life than your college grades and post-college jobs.

Consult the Stars

Sure, convincing yourself of the above facts is easier said than done, but trying to do so is a worthwhile endeavor. Our pro-tip? Get outside for a moment tonight and look at the night sky. Take time to admire all of those stars, the moon, and the planets, including their vastness and the incomprehensibility of their scope.

Putting things into perspective can help finals stress

Putting yourself in front of the large scale of the universe never fails to make us feel a sense of wonder and diminish our worries about our own, relatively small, lives. Hopefully it'll work for you, too.

After all, it's just finals week. You'll get through it. Good luck!

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By Daisy Rogozinsky
May 2019
test prep test stress

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