Similar to that over-used Game of Thrones meme, finals are coming. It’s that magical time of the semester when no one gets a break, and all that studying and homework just seems to pile up like an academic tsunami waiting to swallow you whole.
It’s a time when people’s bodies and minds are pushed to the limit. A friend of mine has a favorite finals mantra that they cannot be sick. This is not because they have some superhuman immune system that kicks in at the end of each semester, but rather that regardless of their health, they will always be studying and working on classwork, usually until the early morning hours to be prepared for finals.
It goes without question that finals are hands down the most stressful part of the semester, and conditions demand 110% of your body, it is important to remember that where it is critical to be ready for finals you need to keep yourself healthy too.
Many groups on campus, like our Peer Assistants, have organized events to make sure that students have resources at their disposal to manage stress. Ranging from cookies to therapy puppies, there is a plethora of ways to manage and reduce stress during finals.
For many people the strategy of choice is to get rest while you can before finals, and then throw yourself to the proverbial grindstone right before finals hit. This means getting almost no sleep each night and studying your brains out until the blissful release of winter break arrives. This strategy is both unhealthy and unproductive because removing vital sleep is treated like an option.
Sleeping is just as important for human health as eating and breathing, and although we can’t always get the full eight hours per night, we still need to get a good amount of sleep for our bodies to function properly. In addition to this, sacrificing sleep for the sake of studying can make us do worse on our exams. If you try to take a test running on little to no sleep, it’s like trying to handwrite an eight-page essay with a dry ballpoint pen.
You simply can’t preform as well because you’re all out of juice. Just like driving, if you start your test running on an inadequate amount of sleep you are likely to veer off the course you worked so hard for and drive right into a tree, or in this case fail the exam. Finals are a marathon, not a sprint.
Even if you didn’t work as hard as you could have up until this point, you still have time to make a plan to study a little bit every day. Inching your way to where you need to be to be ready for finals. It’s like taking finals in small bites rather than one big gulp. Don’t forget to take half hour breaks; in addition to keeping you sane, breaks also improve your general productivity, making you work smarter not harder.
So get some good food, pet some puppies, and hang out with the PA’s if you’re stressed during finals. You get out what you put in. So if you put in poor nutrition, sleeping habits, and a lot of stress you’re going to get a poor finals experience.
On the other hand if you manage your work efficiently and remember to treat yourself with breaks and positive reinforcement you’re more likely to come out on top and feel good doing it. And as always, YOU CAN DO IT.