Girl laying on couch wearing headphones in a relaxed position looking at her phone.

The right amount of stress can keep us motivated, but too much of it can take a toll on our physical and mental health. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, especially as we approach finals week. Here’s some tips to help you stress less this week.

#1 Plan your time

When you feel like there’s just too much to get done and not enough time to do it all, start by writing it all out. Jot down every upcoming assignment, project and due date. Then, plan your time backwards, prioritizing your to do list based on deadlines. Make note of exactly when you will get things done and commit to that schedule. Preparing in advance may not create more time, but it can help you to visualize your time and how to best use it.

Students can schedule a virtual appointment to meet with a Peer Wellness Coach to prepare for finals, including setting a study schedule and making a personal self-care plan. 

You can keep track of everything using your planner or computer. You can also use an organizer app like Wunderlist (free on iOS and Android).

#2 Take care of your basic needs

When we feel overwhelmed, we can sometimes forget to take care of our most basic needs.  Set reminders on your phone to drink a full water bottle every few hours, plan for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and stay physically active during the day.

If you need help building healthy habits, you can use Habitbull, a free app for tracking good habits that also rewards you for meeting goals. If sleep is a bigger obstacle, try out BetterSleep for soothing sounds to shut your mind off before bed. 

#3 Give yourself a break

Research shows that studying for hours on end can do more harm than good. Instead, try this study strategy: set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on the task at hand. Afterwards, take a 5-minute break to walk around, talk to a friend, grab a snack or enjoy a quick stretch. Repeat the cycle three more times, then take a 30-minute break to refresh. 

#4 Evaluate your expectations

Stress feeds off of unrealistic expectations and pressure. It’s important that we check in with ourselves periodically to evaluate our expectations and where they may be coming from. If you’re pressuring yourself to be perfect, it may hinder your ability to actually perform well. Talking to a friend or family member can offer some perspective and help you let go of things that may not be worth your mental energy.

Want to get professional advice? Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has in-person and virtual Let's Talk sessions available for undergrad and graduate students. CAPS counselors can help provide insight, solutions and information about additional resources.

#5 Practice self-care

If you’re still feeling stressed, consider taking a moment to relax and engage in some self-care activities like physical activity, cooking a meal, spending time on hobbies or catching up with friends.

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