College students face a lot of different stressors throughout the year, but finals week can be even more stressful than other weeks. Feeling worn out at the end of the quarter and still needing to perform well on final exams and papers is a lot to deal with! During increased times of stress, we are more likely to experience negative emotions and may be more likely to turn to maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. We are also more likely to neglect our own self-care.
Even though time is particularly tight during finals week, there are some adaptive emotional regulation strategies that we can try to incorporate into our routines. Using some of these pre-emptive coping skills may even help us head off some of the secondary stress associated with maladaptive strategies like not getting enough sleep or eating too much junk food. Here are some ideas:
- Get enough sleep. It can seem like there isn’t enough time to get your normal amount of sleep, but experts recommend getting at least 7 hours. When you get less sleep, its hard to focus and be productive, which may lead to assignments or studying taking longer than usual. Skipping sleep may not save you any time in the long run.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. These may help you feel better in the moment, but they impact your functioning and performance in the following days. Alcohol and drug use can interfere with your normal sleep pattern and impact your mental abilities.
- Eat nutritious food. Eating nutrient rich food will provide your body with the nourishment and energy it needs. Many students eat more foods that are high in sugar during finals week, which may give you a temporary boost in energy, but will eventually lead to a “sugar crash.” If you have a sweet tooth, fresh fruit is a great option!
- Be active. Even if you don’t have much time to spend on an intensive workout routine, even a 10-15 minute walk can help improve mood and makes your body feel better. It also gives you a break from your studies.
- Unplug from social media. College students often report spending a lot of time procrastinating by scrolling through their social media sites or watching cute animal videos. Sometimes these things can offer you a break from studying, but if you notice that you are spending too much time on your social media, consider unplugging, disconnecting WiFi and data, or uninstalling apps during finals week. You can always reinstall them next week!
- Talk with friends and family. Reaching out to supportive people in your life is a great way to reduce stress and feel better!
Make sure during finals week that you also take some time for self-care. It doesn’t have to be anything too long or extensive, but it will help you feel better despite all of the finals stress. Check-out the self-care wheel for more ideas!