Staying strong as the semester comes to a close

Staying strong as the semester comes to a close

As the semester is coming to a close, many Grand Valley State University students are finding themselves extremely fatigued, overwhelmed with final-exam preparation and searching for any shred of energy they have left to finish strong. 

This point of the semester is invariably the most difficult for students. By the time November comes to a close, deadlines have quickly piled up; final papers, projects and exams all seem to be due at the same time; and students start to mentally “check out” as the weight of the stress just keeps building. With break so close yet so far, it can be difficult to find the academic drive needed to tackle finals week. 

So, to help make these next few weeks easier and to ensure you don’t have to spend the much-needed holiday break worrying about what grades you received, here are some tips to deal with stress and make the most of finals week.

Study, but not all day. Those all-nighter cram sessions may feel like the right thing to do, but trust us: They’re not. Spread out your studying, don’t do all your assignments in one day and take breaks. This may seem difficult to accomplish, given how many projects students have due in such a short amount of time at this point of the semester, but you’ll be thankful you did in the end. If you’re half asleep while looking at your flashcards, chances are you’re not going to remember anything anyway. Take periodic breaks throughout the day and don’t push yourself too hard. (You’ll also perform better on tests if you’re well-rested.)

Don’t forget to get enough sleep. Going to bed at 4 a.m. to wake up at 10 a.m. might feel like sleeping in, but in reality, your body probably needs a full eight hours to be at peak performance. Depriving yourself of sleep in order to finish the last page of a paper or to remember that tough vocabulary word probably won’t make much of a difference. If you cut back on sleep, your brain will be equally as weary, so don’t expect this option to help you get A’s. 

Stay organized. This may seem repetitive, as many professors promote this same line of advice over the course of a semester as if it is a cure-all solution, but it’ll save you a big headache come final exam week. Now would be a good time to break out your planner, write down your deadlines and start to map out the next couple weeks. This way, you won’t find yourself stressed out at the very last minute. 

Eat healthy. As easy as it is to run over to Taco Bell or McDonald’s on 48th for a quick bite, healthier foods will be better for your brain as you study. By giving your body the proper fuel it needs, you’ll be better prepared for studying, presenting and test-taking. Meal-prepping, or cooking food in advance and rationing it out per day, is one way to do this, as the chaotic schedule that comes with finals week leaves students little time to prepare a full, nutritious meal. 

Finally, don’t forget to unwind. It can be incredibly easy to get caught up in your studies, but don’t forget to take an occasional break to relax and just breathe. Meditation can be a helpful tool to center yourself, focus on your breath and release some stress. Also make sure you leave your dorm every once in a while to get some social interaction to blow off some steam and commiserate with your fellow students.