How to survive finals week stress

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Students suffer through a week of stressful final exams at the conclusion of each semester and good study habits can make finals week a little less painful. (Photo illustration by Lisa Baker)
Students suffer through a week of stressful final exams at the conclusion of each semester and good study habits can make finals week a little less painful. (Photo illustration by Lisa Baker)

Students return from Thanksgiving break each year with dread in the pit of their stomachs. It’s the end of the semester, and that means one thing: final exams.

Every BYU student goes through finals week, but some handle the stress better than others. Here are a few guidelines to surviving even the most terrifying batch of finals this year.

1. Create a calendar: The first thing for students to do is map out a detailed schedule for Finals Week. Physically writing down deadlines will help organize the entire week and make everything feel more achievable.

2. Clean up: There’s nothing worse than trying to study at a messy desk. Before even attempting to get down to business, students should declutter their working areas.

3. Avoid stressful people: Students should avoid hanging around classmates who are walking anxiety attacks. Stress can be contagious, so the best way to stay focused and calm while studying is for students to surround themselves with positive people.

4. Sleep: It might seem tempting to cram an extra hour of studying in late at night instead of hitting the sack. However, getting enough sleep is crucial for concentration and focus during exams. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

5. Exercise: Students can hit the gym or go for a brisk walk before studying or heading to the Testing Center. This releases endorphins to de-stress and improve one’s mood. Neuroscience major Ryan Lew said exercise helps him concentrate while studying. Physical activity can boost test results by improving blood flow to the brain, according to the Boston Globe.

6. Take breaks: Students shouldn’t be afraid to take a study break every once in a while. They can do some online shopping, go out to dinner or get in the “testing mood” by taking a few Buzzfeed quizzes. Exercise science major Shaun Parkinson uses Netflix to de-stress. “Nothing helps you focus on how relativity works more than wondering what crazy antics Zooey Deschanel will pull next,” Parkinson said.

7. Visualize victory: Before going into any exam, students can mentally picture it going off without a hitch. It’s helpful to imagine a “100 percent” popping up on the screen at the Testing Center. Visualizing a happy ending can increase the confidence people need to actually pull it off.

8. Dress for success: It’s difficult to feel good after wearing the same sweatpants for an entire week. Students should shower and put on some real clothes before heading to the Testing Center. “I have a tradition of dressing up for big exams,” said BYU graduate student Liz Pusey. “If you are dressed in your pajamas, then you will perform at a half-sleepy, lazy level of excellence.”

9. Celebrate: When it’s all over, students should treat themselves. They’ve earned it!

Finals week is coming, but it doesn’t have to ruin the semester. These tips can help students handle anything their professors throw at them.

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