Published: November 27, 2022 by Kesheena Doctor
One of the busiest times in a student’s life is finals week. Inasmuch as I’m at school as a student in a graduate program i have many responsibilities outside of school that i am responsible for, just like you i am sure.
These obligations can add up and cause a lot of stress, which events like finals week only add to. However, there are ways to minimize stressors, and I’d like to share some strategies I use to help prioritize my self-care during turbulent times.
Plan ahead for finals week
One of the best things you can do during finals week is to plan ahead. For example, at the start of your semester, review your schedule and note any major projects and overlapping deadlines so you can plan accordingly. I made a calendar with all my due dates for homework, work schedules, bill payments, and personal plans, so it was all in one place. If certain days or weeks seem very busy, I would try to move more flexible appointments to other times. If you’re working and your job allows it, I’d also recommend taking time off because critical deadlines, like a big job or a final, are approaching. Also let your friends know that you are unavailable during this time and make arrangements with your family to give you as much free time as possible. Finally, preparing meals for finals can also save you a lot of time and ensure you have healthy meals that will keep you energized during your studies.
Management of time
When planning finals week, it is very important to know your working style. Do you like to procrastinate and finish your homework at the last minute? Do you need a lot of time to process information before writing assignments? Are you better able to meet deadlines if you have to report to a group? Knowing your work style can help you maximize your time. If you enjoy working with others, get to know your classmates and form a virtual study group. If you tend to procrastinate on homework, try clearing your calendar before homework is due so you have more time to work. Being honest with yourself about how much time you need to complete homework is essential to time management. If you’re having trouble with meeting deadlines, there are plenty of tools to help you minimize distractions. For example, putting your devices on a focus setting so you’re not tempted to scroll through social media instead of writing a paper can help eliminate distractions. If you don’t like sitting for long periods of time, consider taking a walk before studying, which can help you be more focused and productive. The Pomodoro technique is another great tool to help you focus. Remember that sticking to your study and persistence goals will help you finish your article or presentation.
Setting boundaries during finals week
One of the best ways to minimize stress is to set clear boundaries, which are important to set for yourself as well as for your friends and family. Often the boundaries are weak or non-existent when it comes to loved ones, that we can feel compelled to spend so much more than we can afford. Setting clear expectations for what you can give during this time is a healthy way to manage the stress that family and friends may place on you due to their needs.
Setting work limits is also a good idea during finals or anytime. If you can, take the day off to focus on your homework. If you can’t take time off, let your supervisor know your school schedule and ask not to be given any extra duties during this time. Also, be sure to leave your work duties at work. Don’t be tempted to open work emails or view work tasks when you’re off the clock. Although some jobs may require you to be on call and cannot leave work communication unanswered, it is a good idea to try to set some boundaries with work expectations.
Taking care of yourself during finals week
At the start of the semester, I made a list of my favorite forms of self-care, so I had something to refer to when I needed suggestions. I also made a list of my common stressors so that I could avoid them, if possible. Finally, I wrote down the ways I acted on stress so that I could better recognize when I was stressed. Having different forms of self-care on hand is great for making sure they continue to work for you when you need to unwind. One of my biggest forms of self-care at school is meditation. I recently started using the Preview timer app for meditation and body scans. It’s a great free tool that has an assortment of programs available for those looking for meditative self-care.
If you’re not sure where to start with self-care, SJSU has some great wellness tools for college students. YOU@SJSU offers many great resources for students who want to learn how to create better habits for themselves while studying. SJSU also offers online Support for student well-being for all students. If you are having difficulty, SJSU also offers
for students, including iSchool students.
Good luck in the finals and don’t forget to be kind to yourself and celebrate your wins! If you have any questions or suggestions for taking care of yourself, please comment below.