BOSTON – It’s finally December and college students throughout the country are nearing the end of their fall semesters − finals week is just around the corner! This is crunch time; but how can students remember everything they’ve learned thus far, with holiday excitement in the air and winter weather weakening their immune systems?Staying physically, mentally and emotionally healthy during finals week is crucial. Some students resort to hair pulling, nail biting, comfort foods and hibernation to cope with their stress, but there are many more effective ways to prepare for final exams.
“When everything comes to a head and is due during finals week, I can get easily overwhelmed,” says Christopher Lopez, a junior at Boston University, “So I try to spread out my workload the week before to avoid some of that stress.”
Proper nutrition, a reasonable amount of sleep, organizational lists and scheduled study times are just some of the things students can do to ensure a more peaceful and successful week of tests.
With so many low-carbohydrate fad diets in the media it is important to remember that whole grain carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Since energy is exactly what students need to stay on top of their school work, pizza and beer will not suffice. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole grain pasta to fulfill the 60% carbohydrate portion of your diet. Fruits and vegetables are often difficult for college students to include in their diets, but they provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to maintain a strong immune system. Aiming to have a large salad for lunch, fruit with breakfast and a vegetable with dinner is the best idea.
Sleep is imperative to retaining the information you gain through studying, however, oversleeping can leave you feeling even more lethargic. Instead of sleeping until noon because you don’t have your normal morning classes, set your alarm to ensure the next day will be a productive one. The recommended eight to nine hours of sleep for young adults remains the most effective number of hours.
Mental organization can be difficult with so many assignments, due dates, and new information floating around in your head.”Cognitive restructuring and trying to remain positive help me prepare for finals week,” says Melissa Demir, a senior psychology major at Suffolk University, “Think about what may be stressing you and write down evidence for and against feeling stressed. Be mindful if your cognitions are irrational. If so, try to modify to be more realistic and it will reduce anxiety.”
Making “to do” lists is a good idea during hectic weeks like these; scheduling specific study hours and allowing time to pamper yourself will keep the days from running together. If you normally exercise on a regular basis, this is not the time to forfeit those work-out sessions. Maintaining the endorphins and adrenaline you get from exercising will be beneficial and the hour “lost” will most likely not affect your study schedule.
Staying emotionally healthy is where the support of your friends comes in. Remember that not only do you choose to go to college, but that every other college student is going through the same hard times – and you will all survive it. If you can’t study with your friends, try to meet for coffee or take a break to run along the Charles River with a pal.
In a week’s time it will all be over – until the spring semester, anyway; just breathe.