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Finals week, a time for coffee (so much coffee), unhealthy eating (pizza is a food group, right?), and sacrificing sleep to study more. It is a stressful time of the academic year. I remember it well myself. Having received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, finals week is a memorable part of my life.

What I Wish I Knew Then

I’ll be the first to admit, when it came to finals week, I was not intentional with my self-care. I thought I needed just to survive the busy few weeks and could relax afterward. Two or three days after my finals, right at the start of a break, I would get sick and be out for a few days. It was like clockwork. It became so expected; I would plan my sick days after finals week.

What a weird coincidence, right?

It’s not a coincidence, there is a reason why we often get sick after finals. When we overwhelm ourselves with stress, it increases our adrenaline. After finishing the last final exam, we need to let our bodies relax. This is why we must ensure we are preparing for finals and taking care of ourselves. 

I wanted to share some techniques to help you all find ways to relax and prepare for finals. Considering using all, some, or none of these ideas. The choice is yours.

Go to bed…sleep is important!

It is common for high school and college students to pull all-nighters, sacrificing sleep to continue studying. Do not skip sleep; add it to your schedule. We all need rest, it’s essential for our health.

Imagine staying up all night preparing for an exam, and then forgetting what you studied! This can happen when you don’t sleep because the brain needs rest for learning to occur. It is important to have a stopping point when studying and go to bed. Being well-rested can also help decrease some finals week anxiety.

Check out this video about the benefits of sleep.

Get organized and manage your time.

It may sound cliché, but it’s always effective to get organized. Write down all the exams, papers, and projects required for finals. This is a great way to visually see what is on your list. A to-do list can help you strategize how and when to accomplish your tasks.

Next, get organized! Start making a study plan, then build time in your schedule for sleep, exercise, and spending time away from the books. When you go into a stressful time with no plan, your schedule can feel more chaotic.

It’s important to take breaks. When you feel you are overwhelmed and cannot take any more information in, step away from it. To take in more, we must take care of ourselves and ensure we are in a good head space. 

Exercise every day.

Find a way to be active for at least 20 minutes daily to help relieve stress. This is especially beneficial if you are active enough to break a sweat. There are many different ways to get the job done. Some examples include:

  • Riding an exercise bike
  • Running/jogging/walking
  • Lifting weights
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Zumba

Being active can be fun and spontaneous. Have you ever taken a break from studying to dance? Play your favorite songs, grab a friend, and dance out the stress. Don’t deny it if you haven’t tried it. While preparing for finals, take 20 minutes to dance it out.

Try various breathing techniques.

When was the last time you took a deep breath? Sure, we are all breathing now, but when was the last time you noticed your breath? Doing simple breathing exercises can do wonders for your well-being. It can help refocus your mind and ease stress.

There are many different types of breathing techniques you can use. I personally like box breathing. This entails breathing IN for 4 seconds, HOLDING for 4 seconds, and breathing OUT for 4 seconds. This is something you could do right before a test.

Everyone has their own breathing preference. Check out this article to find the best breathing technique for you:


Take time away from technology. This includes your phone, computer, tv; basically anything with a screen. Yes, this includes eliminating TikTok videos during finals week.  A heavy dose of screen time can increase stress.

You may need to be on your laptop while preparing for finals. With this in mind, make sure you are stepping away from work to decrease your stress. Step outside and enjoy the people around you.

It is amazing how unplugging from technology can decrease our stress and anxiety.

Plan something fun.

Finals are stressful, no doubt. Keep in mind they are temporary. One way to help get through finals week is to plan something fun afterward. This could include getting your favorite food, hanging out with friends and family, taking a mini vacation, planning a staycation, and doing something which brings you joy.

Never forget to celebrate your hard work. When you do your best, you deserve to celebrate.

Every Journey Starts with a Small Step.

Take your finals week step by step. This is an important part of handling a stressful situation. It allows us to break down tasks into manageable projects. You are capable of more than you give yourself credit for.

Take a breath, take a break, and know you can handle finals week. Sending you all positive vibes and best wishes for the rest of 2022!

By Alex Jurgens