As the weather gets warmer and school draws to a close, students across America face one last buzzkill: final exams.
With their GPAs hanging into balance and a year’s worth of notes to read through, it’s no wonder that final exam season comes with a ton of stress for students. Teens face pressure from parents, teachers, and pesky college applications to make a last-ditch effort to keep their grades high (or get them higher).
Finals aren’t going anywhere, though. They’re a inconvenient part of life that’s here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be quite as miserable.
With these quick tips, students can find ways to cope with end-of-the-year stress and tackle finals head-on.
1. Get ahead of the game.
We know you’ve heard it a million times, but maybe this time you’ll listen. Do. Not. Procrastinate.
You’ve known about the exam since September, so what’s your excuse for waiting until 10 p.m. on the night before to study?
When you give yourself more time to master material, you can break up your studying into smaller, more manageable sessions. This will not only improve your ability to retain information, but also help you avoid the inevitable panic of waiting until the last minute. Plus, if you have any questions, you can ask your teacher in class (and not in a frantic e-mail at 2 in the morning–P.S. they’re not answering).
Having an organized plan of attack will eliminate the worry of uncertainty and boost your confidence. You’ve got this!
2. Take care of your body.
Our mental health has a direct correlation with how well we’re physically doing. Babies aren’t the only ones who get fussy without enough sleep.
The week before finals is primetime for late-night cram sessions, energy drinks, and sugary snacks. But all of these things are actually making you more stressed (and drowsy).
Trade in the caffeine for a glass of water and the candy bar for some fruit. Drinking water prevents us from becoming dehydrated, a major cause of lethargy, and healthy snacks with natural sugars and proteins keep our energy high without that dreaded crash.
Oh, and did we mention, get at least six hours of sleep? Studies show that a sleepy brain can be as ineffective as a drunk one, and no one wants to take a chemistry exam while under the influence.
3. Take breaks, move around, and get some fresh air.
Our brains aren’t equipped to work for eight hours straight. At some point, you’re going to find yourself reaching for your phone, taking Buzzfeed quizzes that have nothing to do with Shakespeare, or staring off at nothing. And that’s okay.
Yes, you heard correctly. It’s totally okay and actually beneficial to take mental breaks from studying.
Every hour or so, allow yourself a couple of minutes to indulge in something a bit less stressful than calculus. While retreating to Instagram is absolutely acceptable, fill a few of your breaks with non-screen time. Give your eyes a break from blue light and step out into the sunlight. Walk around. Stretch.
And then turn off your phone and get back at it.
4. Get support if you need it.
There’s no shame in asking for help. Whether you want to go over Spanish vocab with your best friend, need to stay after school with your teacher to remember Eurpoean geography, or talk to a counselor because you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to reach out for support when you need it.
There are professionals (and just good-natured people) out there that you can lean on. You don’t need to go through finals alone.
If your teen is looking for extra support, call Blueprint Mental Health at (908) 256-6965 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.