So, it’s that time of the month for you—and I’m not talking about periods! Finals weeks are that time of the academic year where students are stressing over some last-minute studying, mentally dying from sleep deprivation, procrastinating and putting off important deadlines, or scrambling to save their grades at the last moment. Before you cry over how much you have to do, let me ask you sit down, take a breather and I’ll share with you ways to take care of your mental health. I know you need to memorise those key terms and finish that paper, but your mental wellbeing needs to come first. And when you put that first, you will feel less pressured and more prepared for when the day of exams come.
Don’t Stay Up Too Late!
Sleep deprivation can have negative effects to your physical state and can be dangerous. One study suggested that people who hadn’t had quality bedrest performed even worse than a drunk person on a driving simulator.
Lack of sleep can induce many risks to your body—such as raising your blood pressure, which will also increase your stress levels. And you wouldn’t want to walk into the exam room with a thunder cloud raining over your head when you need to concentrate. So, although the internet says that night owls tend to be geniuses, in a period of stress and pressure it’s best to get to bed on time.
Listen To Music
When I’m feeling down or upset, I like cozying up under my duvet with my iPod and headphones and listen to music for comfort and to raise my mood. Why does it help? Listening to music you find pleasant helps release dopamine, also known as the “feel good” hormone. Other research suggests that this release in dopamine encourages learning by promising a reward.
However, from my own experiences, I suggest listening to something that’s not too upbeat or introspective. When listening to these type of songs, I get distracted either by the lit melody or by trying to work out what the words of the song means. I like to listen to electronic music or something that’s chill with a smooth sound, like jazz music.
In times of anger, sadness, stress or feelings of anxiety, I like to sit down and breathe. In exam seasons, I download and use this meditation app called Stop, Breathe And Think. It is designed to help you in times of chaos, fear or moodiness, with options tailored to your current mood. When you open the app, it asks you how you feel, both emotionally and physically; it will then choose what kind of meditation you need to do today based on your response. This app has helped me improve my happiness and get through the lowest times in my life.
If you don’t want to do anything fancy, then there’s the simple task of taking a walk. Walk around your neighborhood. Walk to the park. Walk with a friend or your dog. Walk while listening to music. Breathing in the crisp breeze of the winter air will blow away your worries and negative thoughts. When you see your neighbors or someone you know, greet them with a “Hello,” “Good morning” or “Good evening.” For bonus points, give them a compliment—seeing them feel good about themselves will make you feel good about yourself.
Have A Spa Day At Home
After a long day of studying, run your bath, add a bath bomb or salts, light up some candles and sink into your tub of warm water. Take a break from the turmoil and spend some time with yourself—you deserve it! Reward yourself for the hard work you’ve been doing at school by pampering yourself with mud masks, cucumbers on your eyes and a glass of refreshing water mixed with lemon slices.
Lastly… Stop Going On Your Phone!
Your smartphone can be the biggest distraction when you’re studying, and it is the main cause of procrastination. The oversharing of your life, the scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, sending and receiving memes, texting your friends… the list goes on. While this helps teenagers nowadays consistently maintain their social life (and ego), it doesn’t help with productivity and can add many risks to our health.
Too much time spent looking at your phone screen can damage your eyes; the artificial light can cause you to lose sleep; and with social media reliance on the rise, the odds of cyberbullying or cyber crimes are even more plausible. All this can impact not just your physical health but your mental health also. Studies have shown that those who spend too much time on their phones are prone to stress and fatigue. So, take a break from your phone every once in awhile!
Lastly, of course, make sure you stay studying and stick to your schedule. These are just a few ideas to boost your morale and keep you sane during the most stressful time of the school year. Good luck to all the fellow students out there who are reading this rather than studying!