6 Tips For a Healthy Finals Week
Current questions running through my mind: How many times can I wear the same pair of Lulus without anyone noticing? Have I really not washed my hair for three days (k but for real this is way healthier for your hair so don’t judge)? Is this my second or third cup of coffee? Is it Monday or Thursday? Monday? Well shit… You guessed it… FINALS WEEK IS ALMOST HERE.
Okay so that intro was a tadddd bit dramatic, because somehow I got extremely lucky and don’t have any “real” finals this semester (to my friends with like 500, I am so sorry). I have a boat load of essays, but no actual tests (thank you writing-heavy major), so this finals week is definitely a little different than others I’ve experienced.
But somehow even without any tests, the stress has been real. Thinking of all of the essays I need to write and projects I need to wrap up, on top of all of the end-of-the-year stuff like packing, moving out and figuring out everything for this summer, has my head spinning.
It’s like I’m so freaking close, but still so freaking far from being done with this insanely crazy, busy semester.
It’s so easy to fall off the wagon (is that even a saying?) during finals week and let all other thoughts that aren’t about school, school or, oh yeah, school, fly out the window. I see so many people cut their healthy habits off once finals week start because they “don’t have time.” And I’m like… finals week is pretty much the most important time to be focusing on your health, mentally and physically!!!!!!
I’ve never been someone that spends the entire day in the library or pulls all-nighters during finals week. And no, this isn’t because I have an easy major or I don’t care (trust me, I care a lot about school), but it’s because I’ve learned to prioritize.
I’m sharing my top 6 tips for a healthy finals week so that you can also get your beauty rest and maybe, just maybe, have enough energy to change into a new pair of Lulus. ;)
Prioritize sleep: If you know me at all (or read my latest blog post about my grandma way of living) you know that I love my sleep. Not in the way that other people love their sleep and can sleep until 1 pm (HOW?!), but I love sleep in the way that I make sure to get eight hours of sleep almost every night. I’m sure you’re sick and tired of people telling you not to pull all-nighters to study, but here I am telling you again. Because it’s actually so dang important!!!! Studies have shown that sleep plays a vital role in your focus and ability to learn new information. So as good of an idea as it seems to stay up and never stop studying, it’ll do more damage than good. This may mean learning to manage your time better (see point 5) in order to get your studying done before the middle of the night!
Fuel up on healthy food: I can’t tell you how many times in the past week I’ve heard people making jokes about the total crap they’ve been eating because “they’re too busy to cook anything else.” STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. Finals week is the time when you should be focusing even more on what you’re fueling your body with. It’s actually shown that the food you eat directly effects your brain’s functioning, mood and stress levels. As easy as it is to live off of poptarts and mac n’ cheese, try incorporating more nutrient-dense, REAL foods into your diet. You won’t only feel better, but you’ll be able focus better, feel more energized and have less anxiety. Also make sure you focus on eating enough during finals week. It’s easy in times of high-stress to brush off breakfast or forget to eat proper meals, but once again- the foods we put into our bodies are the fuel for our brain, so make sure you’re giving it enough fuel to help you power through! I always keep a bunch of healthy snacks in my backpack too, because trying to focus while studying when I'm hungry never works. Time saving tip: buy pre-cut fruit and veggies to make grab and go (healthy) snacking easy. Paired with hummus, hard boiled eggs (you can usually fine pre-hard boiled eggs at the store even) or mixed nuts and you’ve got your brain fuel on lock.
Don’t put exercise on the back burner: For me, working out is the perfect stress reliever. Getting my endorphins going always lifts my mood, makes me think clearer and helps me focus better when I sit down to work. Not sold that you need to make working out a priority when you have multiple, hugely important tests coming up? WELL a Harvard Study found that exercise even improves your brain functions and memory. Even if you truly don’t have time to stick to your normal workout routine (but making it a priority to stick with it always helps me feel a sense of normalcy during hectic times), try to at least fit in 30 minutes (even 10 minutes will do!!!) of sweat time and your brain will thank you! Time-saving tip: bring your study guide, notecards or textbook with you when you hop on the stationary bike or elliptical.
Take study breaks: It can be so easy to get carried away and literally lock yourself in the library all. freaking. day. in preparation for finals (you know those days where you pretty much look like a pack mule walking into the lib with a blanket, three coffees, 12 bags of snacks, every textbook you could ever need and your chargers all tangled up? Yeah, those days). As good of an idea as that sounds in the moment when you have deadlines looming, it isn’t the most productive thing to do. Try splitting up your studying/writing (if you have more essays than tests like me) with short breaks. I love going for a walk in the fresh air, grabbing a coffee with a friend or reading a fun free-read book. I try to steer clear of just scrolling through my phone or watching TV as a study break because it never leaves me feeling as rejuvenated!
Manage your time and plan ahead: Realize that you can’t do it all. During finals week it is so so so important to prioritize. Like I already said, prioritizing your health (sleep, what you’re eating and exercise) is hugely important, and obviously getting your work done and studying is too, so realize that you may need to cut back in other areas like not watching as much Netflix or not having as much social time. For me, planning ahead and mapping out when I need to begin working on things, literally penciling in hour by hour for each day, also helps me stay on track and be much more productive. When I break down each assignment/project/paper/test into chunks throughout the weeks leading up to and during finals week helps me realize that I truly do have enough hours in the day. Just thinking of everything you have to do can be overwhelming so writing it down and breaking it into smaller, daily chunks, can help it all feel much more doable. Time saving tip: actually waiting until even just the week before finals to “plan ahead” and map out when you should begin working on things/studying can be overwhelming and just make you more stressed (and it always seems to take me way longer because I’m freaking out about it all). Try sitting down with your planner and all of your syllabi when you get them at the beginning of the semester (before the stress hits) and pencil in all of the major projects/tests/finals.
Treat yourself: It seems like everyone is saying “treat yoself!!!” more often than not these days, but when was the last time you truly did? I don’t know about you, but stressful times always put me in a total funk, and there’s nothing I like less than feeling like I’m not my typical, happy, positive self. Make sure to do little things for yourself during finals week that bring joy into your life. Money saving tip: treating yourself doesn’t have to mean spending money! Trust me, I love treating myself to an almond milk latte, my favorite lunch out, a killer hot yoga class or a cute new pair of yoga pants just as much as the next person, but I don’t always want to break the bank just because I’m stressed. Sometimes treating myself simply means giving myself time to try out a new recipe I’ve been wanting to make, letting myself push the books aside and watch a Netflix episode (currently obsessed with Switched at Birth lol) or making my favorite at-home coffee drink.
So there you have it! I’ve survived and thrived through 2 (almost 3!!!) finals weeks in my life and honestly it’s because I stick to these lessons I’ve learned overtime.
As you head into finals just remember – you are capable and able to tackle everything that’s coming your way. You are SMART. You are WORTHY of success. But most importantly, you are MORE THAN YOUR GRADES. Don’t define your worth based on your finals because trust me, life is about so much more than a killer GPA.