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Finals are almost here. Someone had to say it. Here are 6 tips to make it through finals:

Create a game plan in advance

We all know finals are going to look different this semester. Minimize some of the additional stress of doing finals remotely by preparing for these changes in advance with a game plan. Talk with your professors and TAs to understand what finals will look like for each of your classes. Will you be taking an exam, giving a presentation or completing a project? Understand that your professors may not have all the answers right now, so it’s important to follow up to ensure you know what is expected.

Once you have an idea of what your finals will look like, create a schedule to help you study. It can be helpful to use a planner, calendar app or create a to do list to outline all of your upcoming assignments and due dates. Break larger projects into smaller pieces like identifying your sources, writing an introductory paragraph or working through PowerPoint slides. Remember to celebrate your milestones, even if they feel small. Every little bit counts!

Schedule breaks

Our brains are incredible, but they still need a break from time to time. As you plan your study sessions, be sure to include breaks. Taking a step back can help us relieve stress and better retain information. Avoid pulling all-nighters, as this can create more stress and has limited benefits in the long run. Instead, start studying early and allow yourself time to work through assignments and study guides at a pace that works for you. If you’re not sure where to begin, follow this proven method to get started:

Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on the task at hand. When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break to walk around, video chat with a friend, grab a snack or do a quick stretching routine. Repeat the cycle three more times, then take a 30-minute break to refresh.  

Listen to your body

When we become preoccupied, it can be easy to forget to fulfill our most basic needs. During this time, it’s important to listen to our bodies and address our needs. You can do this by using the HALT method:

  • H: Are you hungry? If the answer is yes, grab a snack or sit down for a meal to help relieve any “hangry” feelings you may be holding onto. Eating regular meals can also help you feel more energized, improve your mood and increase your concentration. 
  • A: Are you angry? If the answer is yes, identify why and ways you can address it. Take a step back and allow yourself time to process your emotions. Once you’ve identified the root of your anger or frustration, let yourself calm down and brainstorm ways to address it in a healthy way. This may mean you need to create space for yourself, take a walk, get more sleep or talk through things with a friend or family member.
  • L: Are you lonely? Being lonely doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alone. Even if you’re around other people, you can still feel distant, isolated, withdrawn or disconnected. If you experience any of these emotions, it may be time to reach out and have a conversation about what you’re going through with someone you trust. Look for ways that you can make connections with friends, family or peers. For instance, you may start to form virtual study groups in your class or schedule a weekly check-in or virtual game night with friends. 
  • T: Are you tired? Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. If so, it may be time to take a break, do a quick meditation, stretch, lie down or simply close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Avoid comparing stress levels

Stress feeds off of stress, especially around finals. During this time, it can become commonplace for people to talk about how little sleep they’re getting or how many cups of coffee they need to get through the day, among other sacrifices. This type of comparison is often referred to as “stress bragging” and can be harmful to our mental health. In many cases, it sets the expectation that in order to be successful, we must sacrifice our own self-care. Instead of comparing how much additional stress you’ve taken on in the name of finals, work to prioritize self-care as a part of your finals plan and encourage others to do the same. 

Ask for help

Asking for help can be difficult, even when we need it. However, it’s important to remember that your friends, family, peers and professors all want you to succeed.If you’re not sure about expectations or need clarification on an assignment, contact your professor or TA. They will be able to provide you with more information to help you get started. 

If you’re struggling to cope with stress and anxiety around finals, consider reaching out to a friend or family member. Let them know what you’re going through and how they can help you get through this. Staying connected with loved ones is an important factor in managing stress and feeling supported. 

Feeling overwhelmed? Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is here for you. They are providing virtual drop-in and individual counseling appointments for students and graduate students. Students can work with a counselor to come up with a personalized care plan specific to their needs. Call 303-492-2277 to speak with a counselor or schedule an appointment. Workshops and groups will be available soon.

Health Promotion is also available to support students. They offer virtual Peer Wellness Coaching to help students set goals, connect with resources and achieve positive outcomes. They will also be hosting several free virtual events, including a Health Hut on Self Care (April 21) and a Wellness Wednesday covering tips and coping strategies for finals (April 22).

Remember that this is temporary

The current pandemic is temporary, and so are finals. Remember that your grades are not a reflection of your value or self-worth. How you do on your exams also won’t determine the rest of your life. Things might feel difficult right now, but you will get through it. The stress you feel may be overwhelming, but it is temporary and it will pass.

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