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Getting Through Finals Week: How to Stay Sane

by Emily Lohr

Unsplash Photo via Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Finals week is here and Gayle Pamerleau, the director of the Pitt-Greensburg Counseling Center, shared some tips for maintaining your mental health during the end of the semester.

“General tips for mental wellness during finals week are different than tips for maintaining good mental health over the summer break. Finals week is an intense, brief time with lots of stress,” Pamerleau said.

“Summer is, for many students, a more relaxed time with less pressure and more accessible support. Even for those students who don’t look forward to summer break, it’s still usually less intense than finals week.”

Here are a few tips for coping with finals week stress from Pamerleau:

Have an Organized Plan:

  • Put all of your due dates and exam dates and times on one calendar.
  • Organize and declutter your study space.
  • Plan what needs to be completed when. Time spent in planning saves time in the long run.
  • Break large assignments into smaller, more manageable parts. Don’t focus on the 8-page paper, focus on the introduction.
  • Allow time for study breaks. 
  • Set realistic goals and be patient with yourself.
  • We tend to feel less stress and anxiety when we know where things are and when everything is due – it gives us more sense of control over the situation.

Remember Self Care:

  • Get enough sleep. We perform better and handle stress better when we’re well-rested.
  • Choose healthy food. Snacks with lots of simple carbs or unhealthy fats can increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Opt for snacks that reduce cortisone: dark chocolate, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get some exercise by  walking outside. Spending time outside is good for reducing stress and improving focus.
  • Practice relaxation and mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and grounding techniques. Guided meditations can be found online, and there are lots of free mindfulness and relaxation apps.

Pamerleau wants students to keep an eye on their self-care during finals week and during summer vacation. 

“As for good mental health over summer break, I’d say the focus is on wellness. Good self-care like the tips above to keep you at your best for next fall. It’s also a good time, if students are less busy, to work on positive self-talk and not over-thinking,” Pamerleau said.

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