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Finals Week Survival Guide

by Kathy Krause, Coordinator of Experiential Learning May 3, 2021

As we approach finals week at DeSales, students, faculty, and staff are all stressed, swamped, and struggling to find a moment for themselves—let alone a job or an internship.

As we all try to put our best foot forward and do the best work we can, the challenge we face is: how can we be our best selves if we don’t feel like our best selves?

Here are 10 tips to help you feel stronger and capable so that you can be your best self personally, professionally, and academically during the final stretch of the semester.

  1. Get outside and get some fresh air. The weather is becoming milder, and the sun is peeking out, so go celebrate it! Researchers have noted a link between exposure to the sun and lower blood pressure levels plus improved mental health. It’s time to take a health break, so put on your shoes and walk out that door.  As our school’s patron, St. Francis de Sales, says “Take care of your health, that it may serve you to serve God.” You need to be healthy to do any good work!
  2. Eat well. Good nutrition allows you to have the best energy to be your best self. Consider making one tweak in your diet for the better. Put less sugar in your coffee, try a new fruit, or eat one meatless meal a week.  Whatever you decide to do, just make one change.  Don’t overthink it, and don’t try to change ten things. Choose one thing and just do it. Academic and professional success is only possible if you take care of yourself.   
  3. Focus completely on one thing today. Whether it’s drinking your coffee, talking to a friend, or walking across campus, be totally there while you do it. For a moment, don’t let your brain jump from subject to subject. Yes, this is a sneaky way to train yourself to be mindful. When you put  your complete focus on one thing, you will learn to truly appreciate it. Plus, by training your mind to focus on one thing, you will be even more successful in your academic pursuits!
  4. Go ahead and laugh at something. One of the best ways to start feeling like your best self is to take a break and laugh. Find some cute puppies on youtube or watch  a silly tv show. If it makes you smile, do it.  Just for two minutes, smile and reset your attitude for the day.  Laughing raises your endorphin levels in your body and can strengthen your immune system. It is good for your health, so feel free to indulge.
  5. Breathe a great scent. When life gives you lemons (or oranges), squeeze them and breathe deeply.  These scents are found to reduce stress and anxiety.  Does the smell of cinnamon or vanilla soothe you? Explore the world of aromas and find something that works for you. A whiff of eucalyptus might be exactly what you need to summon you out of the finals week stress spiral. 
  6. Take a shower. Don’t let a busy day make you forget to take care of you!  Whether you are studying for an exam or working from home, taking a quick shower. As you shower, imagine the water washing your stress off your body and down the drain. Studies have shown that starting your day with a shower can affect your mood and enhance productivity. Focusing too much on school work or career development to the point where you forget to take care of your body will be the opposite of productive.
  7. Get dressed. This tip may sound silly, but in today’s new virtual environment,  we often opt for pajamas and casual clothes.  Try switching out your sweatpants for a nice pair of jeans or pants occasionally. It’s amazing how dressing differently can affect your mindset. Studies have found that getting dressed up can create a positive feedback loop, which will enhance your daily life, your academic success, and your drive to move forward in your career. 
  8. Listen to a motivational podcast. Even if you already have a list of favorite podcasts, try exploring a world of podcasts outside of your normal preference.  Motivational podcasts can be pretty short and are perfect to listen to during a walk. Let the podcast show you a new perspective.  It might be the spark you need to hit the ground running when it’s time to return to your Quizlet flashcards.
  9. Be nice to someone else. This piece of advice may seem irrelevant to the subject of taking care of yourself and seeking success, but being kind to people has a miraculous effect on our own state of mind. Make someone else smile today and remember that you made a difference. 
  10. Drink a glass of water. Water has been found to boost energy, aid in nutrient absorption, and enhance cognitive function. Your brain needs water to help you think, focus, and be more alert.  A dehydrated brain won’t get you that “A!” Just add one more glass to your diet and pat yourself on the back for taking good care of you. 

When we take good care of ourselves, we’re likely to see an improvement in many aspects of our lives.  But for finals week especially, it is important to take care of the body and mind that are both working so hard. In order to achieve success in the academic or professional realms, it is important to treat yourself like someone you love. Then, you’ll be ready to take on the world, no matter what it throws at you. 

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