As we wind down the semester, block parties and exams alike are a breath away, yet we are all filled with stress. For me at least, spring finals are always the worst. With the now present radiance of the sun and the inviting blue tranquility of lake Mendota sapping any motivation, making us all stressed to “finish strong” is that much harder. It’s no use denying such a fact. Sure, stress manifests itself differently in all of us, but I’m certain these next two weeks will be both a marathon and a sprint of stress to ace finals, finalize logistics on summer internships, travel back home, etc. It can all be overwhelming, but seriously, just breathe.
Despite its clichéd and resoundingly simple message, taking care of oneself during finals and the end of the semester is the best possible way to ensure these days go by smoothly — and hopefully breakdown free. I recall during finals of both fall and spring of my freshmen year being completely undone by the primacy and daunting power of stress. I thought to myself if I crammed every night for a week, I would miraculously be able to make up for any lapses in attention or effort from the semester past.
I was wrong. I burnt out completely. I had no energy and no mental capacity to take a calculus final, much less ace it. But, actions such as these are a learning experience. To ace a test and to overcome the ever daunting prospect of finals, it’s imperative to be smart and to take care of oneself.
The internet is filled with websites which allude to this, but I feel as college students, we often don’t consider empirical evidence or professional research, rather thinking we’re the exception to the rule. Many of us often think we’re immune to the negative effects of cramming, which convinces us to harbor out in College Library until sunrise. We’ve all been there, but it’s not wise, and it’s not worth it.
Take breaks for yourself. You’re not capable of working non-stop for a few weeks straight and that’s completely okay — soak up the newly revealed sun on Bascom Hill or grab some friends and head to the terrace for an hour or two. Anything to relax and take your mind off stress for a few hours helps tremendously. Pacing yourself with studying can help ensure when your finals do come around, you’re not drained and ill-prepared.
Also, attend your final office hours, email professors or TA’s and ask for help and clarification. I’ve never met a professor who isn’t there to do their job and teach — they want you to succeed and learn. Be sincere and honest, and utilize these resources to help answer any ongoing questions you may have.
And just remember, everyone is feeling stressed, and everyone has tests going on. Any emotions and stress you may have are completely valid.
It’s totally fine to not be okay and to be stressed, these are all normal things. Just don’t think you’re somehow lesser because of it. There are so many resources out there to help, whether it’s studying tools, mental health services or just friends who care. The end of the year can be remarkably overwhelming and stressful, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be terrible — take deep breaths, treat yourself well and finals will go smoothly.
Adam Ramer ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in history and political science.