Finals week is nearly upon us, and without a doubt, stress levels are running high. To preserve mental health and ensure a good performance on your exams, good self-care practice is essential. Self-care is more than bubble baths and treating yoself; it’s an important set of skills that can help relieve anxiety and keep you physically healthy as well. Read on for a set of tips on how to take good care of yourself during the finals season.
- Stay nourished.
On a college budget and with limited time for culinary flourishes, it can be easy to fall into a steady diet of ramen noodles and McDonald’s fries. But eating healthy foods and getting your nutrients is one of the most important ways to keep your mind sharp. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive, either. Check out this list of easy and cheap healthy recipes to get started. If nothing else, aim for one protein and one vegetable in each meal.
- Think positive.
It may seem obvious or even cheesy, but positive thoughts can go a long way toward boosting your confidence. Stand in front of the mirror and list the things you’re good at, or go through a mental checklist of all the positive things you’ve accomplished at the end of every night. If anxious thoughts are invading your mind, try this exercise: instead of focusing on negative “what if’s”—What if I fail the test? What if my paper gets a bad grade?—try forcing yourself to consider positive ones: What if I ace the test? What if I crush the presentation? Finally a great way to keep your mindset positive is to end each day with a short journal entry about the best thing that happened to you that day, however big or small. It’s a simple way to focus on the highlights in your life instead of the negatives.
- Give yourself a break.
Sure, you need to cram for that final that’s only two days away, but your brain can only take in so much information before it starts to get overloaded. Take study breaks intentionally, leaving the books behind for something that relaxes and allows you to recharge. Maybe that is a bubble bath, or maybe it’s taking time to work on a hobby, or just watching your favorite TV show with someone you love. Whatever it is, study breaks are a necessary and important part of studying, and your brain and body will be thankful when you take them!
- Move around!
Whether you’re a total gym rat or the thought of exercising makes you cringe, it’s important to get moving during finals week. Exercise releases dopamine in your brain and can increase your mood and concentration in a huge way. If jogging or weight lifting isn’t your thing, try a mini dance party, a few jumping jacks, or some yoga to keep your mind focused. Even just five minutes of movement can greatly increase your performance and leave you feeling more relaxed and less stressed overall.
- Keep things in perspective.
Acing your biology final might seem like the most important thing in the world right now, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t actually matter all that much. Try your best, and then allow yourself to let go of some of the pressure you put on yourself. If you do happen to do worse than you expected, take some time to focus on your successes and good qualities, and remember that no matter what happens, life goes on, and you’ll be fine.