It’s safe to say the beginning of December is rough. Between the oppressive Minnesotan winter, Christmas Festival and the end of the semester, you’re probably feeling a bit stressed. There’s nothing you can do about the weather, your workload or your packed schedule, but there are a few things that you are still in control of:
What, when and how you study
Instead of allotting your entire day to study an infinite amount of material, put aside a few hours every day leading up to your final to really master one or two key concepts. If it helps, make a schedule of what you’re going to study when and hold yourself to it. This way you ensure everything gets reviewed, and you can control when you hit the library. Also try new study methods. Odds are you haven’t found the study method that works best for you, but even if you think you have, switch it up anyway. The change might make it more interesting, and you might discover your new favorite method.
Facebook is one of the most commonly cited distractions during finals. Try to stay off Facebook or at least limit your time online. If you have a hard time leaving Facebook behind, use five minutes on Facebook as a reward for an hour of studying!
Your sleep schedule
It might not seem like there are enough hours in the day to cram everything in, but trying to learn new material when you need sleep is a waste of time. Study during the day, and you will learn more efficiently. You are always in control of your bedtime, so make sure you’re getting between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Studies have shown a positive relationship between hours of sleep each night and G.P.A. Adequate sleep reduces stress, strengthens the immune system and gives you a reliable energy supply. When it seems like you have too much to do, that’s usually when you need sleep the most.
Be sure to watch what you’re eating, and make sure that you actually are eating. Don’t skip meals to study! Just like your body needs sleep, it also needs proper nutrition, especially during stressful times like finals.
Cramming does seem to work for some people, but spacing out studying over a longer period of time is more effective and less stressful. No one enjoys all-nighters – plan ahead so you don’t feel like you have to pull one.
You are always more efficient at the beginning of a study session. So instead of trying to focus for hours without stopping, take frequent breaks and keep starting short bursts of studying.
Time for yourself
Don’t forget to schedule in time for yourself. Use it as a reward to stay motivated. It could be going for a jog, meeting up with friends for a meal or watching your favorite TV show. If you have accomplished your goals for that day, what’s the harm in putting down your textbook and enjoying yourself for a while?
Getting your body moving will make you more resilient when you face physiological and psychological stress. Aerobic activity uses stress hormones, increases energy and strengthens organs targeted by stress. Even if you only have time for 30 minutes a day, physical activity will help you power through finals.