Balancing Finals and Mental Health

Balancing Finals and Mental Health

Abby LeCheminant, Staff Writer

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, which means finals are just around the corner. Finals week is both the most stressful and important week of the school year, as it shows the result of all your time spent learning. It’s not uncommon for students to stay up all night cramming the last six months of knowledge into one night, and unsurprisingly, this isn’t healthy. Instead of making the situation worse on yourself, take these steps to maintain healthy studying habits and good mental health during finals week. 

  1. Make a Schedule 

Making a schedule creates less stress and worry further along the line of preparing for finals. This keeps students from experiencing burnout and getting majorly overwhelmed right out the gate. Don’t plan to relearn everything in one night, it won’t do you any good. On the other hand, “pacing out study sessions over a longer period of time helps students retain more information” (TBS). It’s a waste of time to pull all night cram sessions, time that can instead be spent getting the sleep your body needs. Structure for the days ahead can provide relief and comfort knowing that you have a game plan. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed in the middle of a study session, take a quick ten minute break, but not for much longer than that. Changing the location of where you’re studying has been shown to help improve focus and concentration, try moving around the house instead of staying in one place the entire time.

     2. Get Sleep

Sleep is vital to staying sane during finals, and it even plays a part in your performance on them. It may be tempting to pull an all-nighter in order to get a few more hours of studying in, but a “lack of sleep impairs your memory, mood, and ability to process information” (MHA). What’s the point in losing sleep to study if the information can’t stick like it normally would? Sleep provides time for your brain to rest and prepare for the next round of knowledge that’ll get thrown at it. The majority of students, 82% of the study participants, who missed out on getting a good night’s sleep and instead got less than seven hours of sleep didn’t do as well on their exams. The students who got at least seven hours of sleep were able to do better on their tests. Spend time throughout the day studying, and pace yourself so that you’ll be able to save some for the next day after you’ve got some rest. 

     3. Eat Healthy

It’s important to make sure your body gets the food it needs, as it also influences how well you do on tests. More specifically, eating healthy and nutritious foods is the best thing you can put into your body before finals. The CDC has said that “eating a healthy diet and being physically active not only can improve the health of students but also improve their academic achievement” (CCA). Don’t skip out on meals and make sure to keep an eye on how much junk food over healthy food is in your intake.

     4. Be Kind to Yourself

Finals week can really batter a person down, so don’t take anything out on yourself. What matters is that you try your hardest and put in your best effort. Keep you and your feelings as a priority- it’s okay to set things down and take a walk. Your grades don’t define you and your own personal mental health is more important than any test you may have. Don’t pass unwarranted judgment on yourself from a single final score.

Prioritizing your mental well-being in the next coming weeks is the most important way you can prepare for finals. Take a step back from all the homework and studying to check in with yourself. Creating schedules, getting good sleep, eating good food, and most importantly being kind to yourself are all ways you can take initiative for finals week. And don’t forget that your grade doesn’t define you!