Finals Week Pushes Students to Their Limits: 10 Ways to Cope With the Stress


Fiona Botsford

Taking a walk at Crown Hill (or any place else) can help lower your stress level.

Fiona Botsford, Rookie Reporter

As the end of the semester fastly approaches, stress is on the rise for students everywhere. The three weeks before winter break is known to be a demanding time, trying to complete all the major assignments due before winter break. It’s easy to push yourself over your limits and get worn out, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress. Here I’ve compiled a list of ways to cope with the stress of school to help encourage you to make the right decisions to finish semester one off the best you can. 

1. Plan and Balance Work

One of the best ways to get your work done without feeling overwhelmed is to plan ahead. We’ve all rushed an assignment at the last minute, feeling tired and not putting in our best work. Therefore, it’s important to make note of the assignments you have to complete for the week so you don’t feel rushed and can complete the assignments the best you can. Planning can help you focus on the most important things first and not forget any assignments. Social Emotional Learning Counselor Dr. Grace Lopez-Aliaga says, “If you avoid putting in the work, it will add additional layers of stress that don’t have to exist.” So planning ahead is a healthy way to get work done with limited stress while still having a life outside of school. 

2. Listen to Music

One of the easiest ways to take a break from school is to listen to music. Because of how easy and effective it is, listening to music is a number-one way to deal with stress. Music is an entertaining way to pause from school. When you need to take a break, turn up the volume to your favorite song, album, or artist to boost your mood. 

If you don’t like doing school work in silence, turn on music that won’t distract you. Maybe a new artist, or maybe a song with only instrumentals. Find what works for you so you can effectively take a break and finish your school work. 

3. Get a Good Amount of Sleep

Even if you feel like you should stay up and cram an assignment, it’s likely not the best decision. In most cases, it’s best to just go to sleep. It’s not worth being tired the next day with an assignment not done to the best of your ability. If you have to stay up late, make sure you do it responsibly. Make sure you know what you have to do so you aren’t staying up longer than you need to. Sleeping can boost your mood and lower your stress so don’t stop yourself from getting a restful sleep. 

4. Exercise 

I know sometimes you just want to lay in bed but stepping outside, even for 5 minutes, is very beneficial to your health and focus. Doing exercise, like going on a walk, boosts your brain’s dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. All of these can improve your focus and attention. There are many different forms of exercise, not just working out in a gym. One way is to  walk around the mall or neighborhood with your friends. Getting up and moving activates different parts of the brain to help you increase activity. 

5. Socialize 

Socializing can help you take a break from rigorous school work to see people you enjoy spending time with. Having a friendly support system not only helps with stress but anxiety and depression as well. Having someone or several people to talk to is helpful to get your mind off school. The Mayo Clinic says socializing can “helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being,” 

6. Engage in Your Favorite Hobbies 

Is there something that always boosts your mood? Something that you love to do that just instantly makes you feel better? Well, when you feel stressed out and need a break, try doing that thing that makes you happy. If drawing is your thing, draw something! Maybe it is cooking and baking; do it! Don’t let school stress stop you from taking care of yourself. Use this as a time to perfect your skill while breaking from excessive school work. 

7. Eat Good Food

A great way to boost your mood is to eat some comfort food. When you eat good food, your stress levels can be lowered. In fact, when you eat sweet and starchy foods, your body makes serotonin which makes us feel calmer and decreases stress. Eating food not only fuels your body but your mind as well. With food in your stomach, you can function better, so why not dig into that nourishing plate of food. 

8. Avoid Stress Triggers

Learning to say “no” to distractions and avoiding people that bother you is essential to managing stress. The Mayo Clinic says, “You have a lot of responsibilities and demands on your time. At a certain point, you cross the line between being charitable and being foolish.” Saying yes all the time is unhealthy and results in feeling more stressed because of the commitment. Avoiding people that would make you upset is key to keeping your mind clear. Say, you are about to take a test, you don’t want to get yourself stressed and upset before the big test because that could negatively affect your results. When you feel yourself getting in unwanted situations, take a step back and find a way to leave it. 

9. Adapt to Your Situation

  Adapting to the situation you are in, can help you deal with it successfully. Lopez-Aliaga says, “It’s important to have perspective and to frame your situation with an optimistic but realistic point of view.” You may be thinking you can get everything done in one night but, it really will take a couple nights. When you are stressed out, you need to be flexible and able to change your work plans. 

10. Practice Self Care

Self care basically sums up the list above but it can also look like watching a movie, reading a book you’ve been putting off, taking a nap, or just getting out of the house. Everyone is different and everyone needs different things to recharge. I encourage you to take your time when practicing self care. It isn’t supposed to be rushed. Take it as a time to slow down life and work on yourself

Now that you have some ideas to deal with the stress load of finals week, I hope you can find what helps you. Either try these 10 ways or try making up some of your own. Taking care of yourself matters, so don’t ignore it when you are feeling overwhelmed and drained. Everyone needs to take a break from school, and that’s okay!