Alberto G. via Flickr
We are on the cusp of what are possibly the two most anxiety-ridden weeks of the year. This year, starting May 7th, there will be two weeks during which students will take both their AP and Semester Two exams. Although summer is right around the corner, many students know that there is still a great deal of work to be done before the year wraps up. As these daunting weeks approach, Pine Crest students begin to do what they do best: stress. Luckily, there are several ways to help reduce stress before final exams. Follow this guide to help push through one of the toughest weeks of the year, while staying calm and relaxed.
It is crucial to stay organized prior to finals week. This may involve de-cluttering workspaces or keeping an up-to-date planner or calendar. Researchers have concluded that a chaotic workspace causes the brain to lose control and lose focus. The larger the mess, the more overwhelmed the brain becomes, so it is definitely worth it to take time to clean up. Even if it is just a few pieces of paper or a few broken pencils taking up space, it makes a big difference and will allow a much more effective and productive study session to occur.
Another way to stay organized is to keep a planner or calendar. Constantly struggling to remember important assignments and test dates can be an incredibly difficult and stressful task, which is why writing everything down in one place will make it much easier. Whether one prefers to use a traditional planner that they can carry with them in their backpack, or a digital calendar that can be pulled up within seconds on a computer, having a central place to organize thoughts and important events will reduce a portion of the brain’s stress.
Lastly, it also important to organize time. Time management is a skill that most people are yet to master. Some tips to organize time in a more effective way include prioritizing tasks, setting goals, and using time in school, like free periods and Spark breaks, to get a head start on homework and studying before the school day ends. For some, staying organized is easy, but for others, it is a challenge. It is important to try these tips to stay organized during this stressful time.
Nutrition is Essential
In addition to staying organized, it is also important to pay attention to nutritional habits during such a chaotic time, like exam week. It is easy to depend on sugar and caffeine for nutritional satisfaction while spending endless hours in a room preparing for an exam, but this is only counterproductive. Stress, possibly from an upcoming exam, causes people to make bad decisions when it comes to food. Eventually, this causes blood sugar fluctuations and lowered immunity, creating even more stress.
To end this vicious cycle, it is vital to create healthy eating habits. For example, try to drink about half a gallon of water per day, chose to eat a fruit or a vegetable instead of something high in sugar or fat, and avoid late-night snacks. During finals week, be sure to eat well-balanced meals and stay hydrated throughout the day to enhance productivity.
Go Outside and Exercise
It is crucial to find the time, even on a busy schedule, to make a trip outside of school to take in the fresh air and get some exercise. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to rush the body with endorphins, which will occur while exercising. Endorphins are chemicals that appear in the brain and have the ability to relieve pain naturally. Endorphins also help improve the quality of sleep. Exercise is the best way to produce endorphins while improving focus, stamina, and muscle strength at the same time.
Whether it is biking around the neighborhood, working out at the gym, or simply taking a pet for a walk, exercise will give the mind and body the break that it needs. Even a few minutes of exercising helps reduce tension and increase focus, both of which will improve productivity while studying. No matter how much studying needs to be done, or how much time there is until the exam, be sure to exercise in order to make the mind feel happier and the body feel more energized.
Like exercise, mediation can be a great way to clear the mind. No matter how much knowledge or experience one has with mindfulness meditation, there is no better time to start than exam week. All that is required for a successful meditation practice is a quiet and tranquil environment. There are several websites and apps on electronic devices that will provide a guided meditation practice, which is perfect for beginners. Meditation sessions on these websites will range from two minutes to thirty minutes, but no matter how long the session is, the mind, the body, and the soul will experience the many benefits of mindfulness.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
During finals week, it can be easy to find oneself awake past 1 a.m. with their head buried in a textbook, but sleep is crucial during stressful times. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital for brain health so much so that researchers have found that people who get less than seven hours of sleep do not perform as well on tests as those who do receive enough sleep, due to the fact that sleep improves the ability to think and focus.
Not only does sleep benefit the mind, it also puts people in better moods and strengthens athletic ability. Also, keep in mind that there is no shame in making time for naps in between study sessions; power napping provides just the right amount of increased composure and does not take up too much time. During exam week, work hard and study during the day, so at night, the body can rest up and get enough sleep.
Assistant Head of the Upper School and Dean of Student Services Mrs. Krista Promnitz shared her insight on how to best prepare for exams. She said, “Start studying early, be organized, have a plan, and most importantly stick to that plan. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and having a balanced nutrition during the finals time is also very important.” Mrs. Promnitz also recommended that students not “overload on caffeine because you want to keep yourself feeling good and healthy during exam week.”
Applying these tips will certainly help manage and reduce stress, especially during finals week. The Pine Crest community wants to make sure that students feel ready and prepared for what is to come within the next few weeks.
Good luck to everyone on their exams!
Sources: Huffington Post, Very Well Mind, Health, Psychology Today, ADAA, Mindworks, WebMD
Photo Source: Alberto G. via Flickr