Finals Are Coming!

Taken by me at Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, TX.
Taken by me at Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, TX.

Good morning, good morning!  It is a nice and cool morning.  I have the balcony door open and Spotify playing while the smell of coffee and pancakes still linger in the air.  This week is the end of classes and the beginning of finals, so today is my day to both relax and get myself prepared for the end of the term.  Since the term is almost over, and I’m sure some of y’all are getting close to being done for the spring, I figured I’d give some lists & links for helping you get through finals.

First up, this photo set from The Darkroom Nerd.  These shots are so relaxing to look at; the sunshine is streaming through the trees while the comforting and calming colors of nature surround the frames of these photos.

Next, “10 5-minute De-Stress Techniques” from The College Juice, Barnes and Nobles college blog:

  1. TAKE A HIKE – Spend a few minutes going for a walk outside. With the weather getting warmer, a nice break in the sunlight catching some rays of vitamin D will significantly cut down on your stress.
  2. BREATHE, 2, 3, 4 – When you start to feel like you’re going to lose it, try taking some deep breaths and releasing the air slowly. Concentrate on counting your breathing as a distraction from whatever is giving you anxiety.
  3. MAKE A TO-DO LIST – Sometimes just getting a list going of everything you need to get done makes the tasks seem a little bit more manageable. Make sure it’s a written list and cross off each item as they are completed.
  4. EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE – Okay, not ALL the chocolate. However, it is proven that dark chocolate reduces stress and improves your mood. Keep a bar or two handy for those rough exam weeks!
  5. MAKE ROOM FOR TEA TIME – Like chocolate, studies have shown that green tea can also relax the mind. Drinking 5 cups a day can decrease psychological distress by up to 20 percent!
  6. CHEW GUM – Yet another odd trick for getting your efficiency up and stress down is to chew gum. Studies show that chewing gum can actually lower your levels of stress and anxiety.
  7. BRUSH…YOUR SKIN? – It sounds strange, but brushing your skin with a firm, but gentle brush is actually considered a meditative technique. It is said to reduce muscle tension, calm your mind and relieve stress.
  8. PET A PUPPY – Seek out the closest furry animal and (with permission) get to petting! Being around animals like dogs and cats is a mood-booster and the act of petting them can relax you as well asreduce stress.
  9. STRETCHHHH – A great way to release some tension is to do stretches. Take a few minutes to stretch your arm and leg muscles – you’ll be surprised how relaxed you feel!
  10. MASSAGES ALL AROUND – Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford professional massages in college, but a great alternative for stress relief is self-massage. Try out these techniques to resolve tension headaches, tired hands, and achy shoulders.

While drinking 5 cups of green tea per day seems a bit absurd (unless you just really love green tea), some of these ideas are definitely going to be put into use as a way to help me push through the stress and anxiety of finals week.  Especially going for walks, petting a companion animal (Crockett!), and chocolate.  Yum, chocolate.

Then, I have another article from The College Juice titled, “Midterm Madness“:

1. GET STARTED – Ignore that voice in your head that says, “I don’t feel like studying.” The sooner you start preparing, the easier (and more effective) your study sessions will be.

2. ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE – First, determine which exams you have and when they’ll take place. Then, block out time EACH day for studying. Assign a subject to each study session so you know what to expect.

3. ONLY STUDY WHAT’S ON THE EXAM – Before you start studying the book front to back, determine what will actually be included on the exam. Your professors will typically outline the exam structure and let you know where your time studying would be best spent.

4. USE STUDY TOOLS – Take advantage of different study techniques that will help you to memorize the most information in the shortest amount of time. Use flashcards, phone/tablet study apps, mnemonic devices, games, diagrams, songs, drawings – whatever you find most effective for you.

5. STUDY OUT LOUD – By reading information out loud to yourself, you’re actually improving your retention of that knowledge. This is called creating “distinctive memories”. The more you have, the better your chances of remembering that information will be!

6. ATTEND REVIEW SESSIONS & STUDY GROUPS – This is really important. During review sessions, professors will generally tell you a) exactly what will be on the exam (remember #3?) and b) you can ask them to explain anything you haven’t understood throughout the semester. Occasionally, you’ll even get extra points just for showing up and sometimes he/she will tell you exact questions from the exam – it DEFINITELY pays to go. As for study groups, sometimes just hearing someone else explain something to you in a new way, or being forced to explain something to someone else out loud will help you learn more effectively.

7. CHANGE UP YOUR LOCATION – If you study the same information in different locations, you will be more likely to remember it. Doing this forces your brain to make new associations, much like the distinctive memories we discussed in #5.

8. TAKE BREAKS – Giving your mind time to relax and soak in all of that new information is actually a real study technique – and it works! Try doing some light exercise during one of those breaks for some extra brain power and to boost your productivity.

9. EAT HEALTHY – Keep on top of your health by maintaining a nutritional diet – rich with brain foods! Try fitting a few of these favorites into your meals leading up to midterms: fish, blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and avocados.

10. SLEEP WELL – Possibly the most important of all – get your rest. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule leading up to your exams, getting a good 8 hours of sleep per night. A well-rested brain functions much more efficiently than a sleep-deprived one!

Obviously I’m not going to eat any fish, but I will definitely be snacking on avocados and nuts throughout the week.  I’m also going to make a point to study outside; the weather has been so nice lately and I feel a bit guilty about not taking advantage of it.

Finally, I want to leave you with this Spotify playlist that I use to help de-stress during my study breaks by getting up and having a mini dance party.  Also, I want to leave you with a reminder that it’s okay to get tired, bored, and stressed with studying.  It’s perfectly normal!  Just remember that it’s okay and that you have the ability to get through this.  You are strong and you will get this over with.

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