It’s that time of year again—finals season! You’re probably already looking for the nearest place to hide at the mention of the word. But have no fear, help is here! If finals tend to stress you out or make you want to drink a gallon of coffee to stay awake, here are some helpful tips.
1. Avoid junk food and excessive caffeine
I know, it’s hard! But a healthy body and mind are important to doing well on your finals. You may find yourself tempted to reach for chips or candy, but grab a pack of salted nuts, a granola bar, or some fruit instead. Rather than drinking coffee or energy drinks every few hours, grab a bottle of cold water or a cup of green tea. According to Business Insider, both salted nuts and green tea are healthy alternatives to coffee. They benefit your energy, giving you that extra boost to get you through a study session!
Related: The Best Study Snacks for Healthy Eating in College
2. Take naps
It’s okay to take a break and close your eyes when you’re preparing for finals. I like to set a timer on my phone for 15–20 minutes so I don’t sleep too long. Studying can be tiring, so it’s better to get some rest between subjects than forcing yourself to stay awake, ending up with your notes plastered on your face. Just don’t take too many naps in one day or you won’t get much else done.
3. Find a study partner or study group
Though it’s sometimes a more effective option, studying for finals alone can be difficult. Finding a study partner or study group might increase your productivity and reduce the stress of studying by yourself. If you don’t understand a concept in the material, you could ask someone in your group who may have a better understanding.
It’s a good idea to make sure everyone is studying the same subject so you don’t distract each other with multiple conversations related to other courses. You could get off topic easily and find yourself behind on what you originally planned to study. Instead, find peers in a specific class or students in a different section taking the same subject. Plan a time that works for everyone, and make sure to meet at a relatively quiet place. Also try to split up questions among the group and quiz each other on your answers or guesses.
Related: Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests
4. Take 5–10-minute breaks
Try taking a quick break when you find yourself getting overwhelmed after studying for a while. There’s a timing method called the Pomodoro Technique® that recommends setting a timer for 25 minutes to work then taking a few-minutes break before returning to your task. That may work for you. If you’re looking for a different method, you could ditch the timer completely. Instead, study for about an hour, then stretch, grab a snack, feed your dog, or do anything else to free your mind for five to 10 minutes. Once you’re refocused, return to studying.
5. Go for a walk
A good way to wake yourself up or release some of that stress is to take a good walk. It doesn’t have to be a long walk; it doesn’t even have to be outside! (Though it would be better outside for a change of scenery and refreshing air to calm you down.) Just get up and walk around to get that blood flowing. After sitting for so long, it’s easy to grow tired and anxious to move on to the next thing. According to Prevention, studies have shown that a walk is effective at reducing stress regardless of the pace. What matters is that you use your mind while you walk, which could be as simple as counting your steps in your head.
Related: 3 Easy Ways to Exercise in College (Without Hitting the Gym!)
Finals stress can be the hardest kind of stress you’ll face throughout the academic year. But with some mindfulness and intentional planning, you can take steps to combat stress, get everything done that needs to be, and ace those exams!
Find more tips on how to ace all your tests and classes in our Majors and Academics section.