7 Mental Health Tips to Survive Finals Week

Feeling stressed about your college finals? Here are 7 mental health tips from Uncubed to help you get it (and keep it) together while studying!

1) Make To-Do Lists

Unless you only have one final to take, it can be difficult and stressful trying to organize your thoughts and tasks ahead, which is why we recommend making to-do lists.

Studies show that making lists is proven to alleviate anxiety because it helps you select and prioritize work when you’re experiencing information overload, giving you a sense of structure amidst what feels like chaos. It’s also a good way to keep track of what you’ve studied and what you’ll need to do before the day is over.

Breakdown your load with a list that consists of specific and realistic goals:
[] study nomenclature (general)
[] memorize the structure of 3 different hydrocarbon compounds (specific and realistic)

Additionally, our brains light up when we cross off tasks. It feels good, and it’ll make you want to keep going! You can even set rewards in between a set number of tasks, so you don’t burn out while studying.


2) Back Off the Caffeine

It’s no surprise that when finals come around, students overdo it on caffeine. This is a problem because too much caffeine increases levels of anxiety and insomnia, which has dramatic effects on the way people study and how much information they’re able to retain. So while we’d like to recommend skipping caffeine entirely, we understand that it’s not realistic 🙂

Limit yourself to 1-2 cups of coffee per day, and if you really feel like buying a third, gift it to someone instead! Buying stuff for others is linked to an increase in happiness levels.

If you absolutely MUST have caffeine, balance your intake with equal amounts of water so you don’t dehydrate yourself.


3) Don’t Neglect Sleep and Healthy Eating Habits

It’s easy to get so lost in studying that you forget to eat, sleep, or both, so make sure to schedule time for these critical to-dos.

For starters, studying when your stomach is growling is extremely distracting… for you AND your friends!

If you find yourself eating more than usual because of stress, try for healthier snack options like blueberries, which contain antioxidants that boost memory and brain power.

And lack of sleep dramatically affects cognition. Imagine staying up all night to cram for your big test, only to get to your final and forget everything. What a waste!

It’s important that you sleep for 7-9 hours each night so your brain can sort all of the information that you spent all day feeding it. In fact, the most important stages of sleep are the REM stages, which help with memory consolidation; REM kicks in toward the later hours of sleep – so fewer hours of sleep means less REM, which means you’re not maximizing your retention and recollection potential!


4) Switch Up Your Space

Maybe you prefer pin-drop silent libraries, noisy cafes, or the comfort of your own bed (we actually don’t recommend this last one). Wherever it is that you like to study, changing environments is linked to better recall, productivity, and learning. This is because your brain is constantly making learning associations with your surroundings. Check out more ways to switch up your space here.


5) Take Breaks

Don’t get caught up in the marathon of studying! It’s okay – and highly recommended! – to take breaks. Studying for about 50 minutes and taking a 10-15 minute break has been shown to be the most productive.

What should you do on your break?

  • Get up and walk around!
  • Text your crush or s/o about how much studying sucks and hope they respond
  • Challenge your friend to a push-up competition (loser will be cursed and inevitably fail their finals)


6) Don’t Forget About “Me Time”

You’ve probably heard it countless times before, but TREAT YOURSELF!

Sometimes you get to a point where you just can’t study anymore, so why force it when you know it’s not going to be productive? It’s alright to jump online for a game or two of LoL (League of Legends). Not your thing? Try a face mask (with friends is even better). Return to that Netflix binge you so maturely put on hold… but make sure the length of time you binge for doesn’t exceed the amount of time you study for!


7) Breathe

Because why go through all of this just to not make it to your finals?

If you’ve ever done a guided meditation or attended a yoga class, you know that breathing is essential to relaxation. There are several types of breathing techniques that you can practice. A simple and common one is Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”: inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds (all through your nose). This can be done whenever and wherever. We also recommend doing this over and over again if you find yourself struggling to fall asleep.


That’s it, folks! Good luck with your finals, from all of us here at Uncubed!