How Many Remained Sane During End of the Year Exams
By Sara Laiti
With the end of the semester and the holiday season approaching, intense feelings of stress were in the air. Final exams are the most crucial component of many college students’ grades, and the timing could not have been more inconvenient. With the mixed feelings of going home for the holidays, purchasing gifts, and suffering from burnout from an entire semester of hard work, school was the last thing many students wanted to focus on. Due to this overload of stress from having such a miniscule time frame to complete so much, many students struggled with methods of maintaining a healthy mental state.
The daunting question remains: How do I remain calm and collected during the most stressful time of the year? Many first-year students were clueless when it came to avoiding mental health issues towards the end of the semester, and many of them succumbed to their extreme stress and anxiety.
If you or someone you know has trouble averting negative feelings, here are a few effective methods for de-stressing and remaining sane for the next exam session.
- Go to bed early.
Of course, it’s something parents have preached for years and what professors advise on the night before exams, but several studies prove that this works. Going to bed early and waking up early keeps the brain more alert throughout the day. It’s also been proved that the brain will absorb more knowledge in the morning versus late at night, so studying and reviewing material in the morning for an exam rather than pulling all-nighters will help you perform better on those stressful exams. This also means you’ll be getting more sleep, leaving you less groggy and your body better able to function normally. What does this all mean? You’ll have reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. More on that later.
- Take mindful breaks.
Taking breaks during elongated study periods is crucial, as the brain needs time to fully absorb small chunks of information before attempting to soak up more. Take breaks that allow you to completely relax, like going outside for a walk, listening to music, calling a close family member or friend, or doing something creative like doodling to give your mind a break from “on” mode. It’s been proven that creative breaks that allow the mind to fully escape from studying for 30 minutes to an hour result in greater productivity upon returning to studying. During every study session, make sure to set a timer for scheduled breaks. The relaxation time is much needed and will encourage you to keep studying since you know there’s a much-earned break around the corner.
- Find time to meditate.
It may seem impossible to make time to do anything other than study during exam season, but taking just a few minutes out of each day to be completely alone with your thoughts can enhance your mood and lower your stress levels. Mindful.org reports that not only can meditation significantly reduce stress, but it can also help you understand your pain, connect better with the world around you, improve your focus, and reduce brain chatter. Utilize free apps and YouTube videos that offer both short and longer guided meditation patterns. Breathe in…breathe out. You’ll be stress-free in no time.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to someone.
Exam time is difficult for almost everyone, so don’t feel like you’re suffering alone. Most campuses have plenty of resources available to students so that they may talk to a counselor or professional to feel more at ease with their feelings. College isn’t easy and more people than you realize are dealing with stress and anxiety, so don’t be afraid to embrace that and reach out to someone who’s there to help you. Talking about your feelings is the easiest way to center your mental health, enhance your mood, and focus on finishing out the year strong.
- Trust that you will get through it.
It can be difficult to look into the future and accept that the best is yet to come. However, it’s important to remember that this is simply the most difficult time of the semester for everyone, and you’re almost done! Just acknowledging that you only have a few weeks of hardship left can trigger motivation and give you a reason to keep working hard. Think about all the sleep you’ll be getting when it’s all over, the family and friends you’ll get to see, and the holiday celebrations you can enjoy.
While every student feels that their end-of-the-semester stress is new and unprecedented, it’s important to remember that millions of students around the nation are faced with–and overcome–this stressful time of year. It’s a rite of passage; once you make it to the other side, you have a milestone to celebrate! No matter how difficult it gets, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never fear: The break you deserve is closer than you think.