By the time finals week comes around, everyone is sleepwalking and running on super-sized coffee cups. We do our best to eat well like our mom tells us to, but finger food and snacks are usually what we turn to as we spend hours perfecting our papers, reviewing the numerous systems of the human body, practicing the never-ending calculus problems and amidst all that somehow managing to get a measly six hours of sleep.
It will be rough, I am not denying that. By the time May comes around my motivation to study dwindles and I would rather be outside enjoying the few sunny days Erie blesses us with than reviewing for my six upcoming exams. There are several ways I have learned to help me stay focused, but at the same time enjoy the last few weeks with my friends before we all separate for the summer. Here are some tips to help you through the next couple of weeks.
1. Take breaks while you study. The few days before finals week, focus on relaxing — not just jamming a year’s worth of information in your head. Make it a priority to stop studying every one to two hours and take a short break. Grab a salad and call your mom and tell her that you are eating a salad, stretch out or do some jumping jacks, or talk to your friend about anything not school-related. Sometimes I take a power nap when I go on my 15-minute break. Whatever you do, change it up and listen to your body; it will tell you what you need most.
2. Try to decrease your caffeine overload. Over 70 percent of your body is composed of water and every function in the body is dependent on water, including the activities of the brain and nervous system. Rather than drinking coffee to stay on top of your upcoming exams, grab a water bottle instead.
3. Too nervous to fall asleep? Use the cold shower trick. Make the water as cold as it can possibly go, and stand under the stream for about three minutes. It will be painful, but it will also slow your body’s metabolism and put you in a “shutdown” mode. Most people might think of a “long, hot bath” as the best way to relax and go to sleep but it actually raises body temperature and makes it difficult to fall asleep. So, if you want to pass out like a pro, this is the way to do it.
4. Fill up on energy food the night before your exam. Whole grain pasta, breads and of course fruits and vegetables are the way to go. Your brain burns 20 percent of all your body’s calories, and thinking hard for hours at a time is incredibly energy intensive. Make your pre-test meal epic by getting your friends together and enjoying a meal that does not come out of a microwave.
5. You are your biggest cheerleader. Keep yourself motivated and psychologically improve your confidence. Get up and look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you can do it, that it will be OK, and no matter what happens after you take your exams, plan something fun. School can take over your life sometimes, so it is important to celebrate the milestones and remember why you embarked on this crazy journey.
No matter what, be proud of doing your best work. It will all work out in the end. Ten years from now you will forget about the pain and will be working at a top firm or writing your latest novel or breaking new medical grounds. This is only the beginning, and it’s just finals week, so no big deal, right? Take a deep breath and get back to studying — your 15-minute break is probably over now.