Here’s How We’re Managing Our Anxiety During Finals Season

By: Neda Ahmed

It’s the season: finals are approaching and our anxiety levels are escalating. This guide is tailored to those whose anxiety is going through the roof, so grab your coffee (preferably not coffee though that’s the first thing you need to drop), take a break, and listen up.

Before I start, please know that it’s okay to feel like you’re not giving your studies your all every once in a while. Hell, it’s okay to not actually give it your all every once in a while, as well. I’m a working student; my workload is huge and more often than not, I feel like I’m slacking. It’s absolutely okay. You’re a human being not a robot or a machine, and you’re not bound to work every minute of the day. When the headache sets in and the nausea starts creeping on you, when your eyes droop and desperation seems like it’s all you got, take a break. Allow yourself the space to breathe and recharge. This is the principle upon which all these tips are based.

1. Ask for help

While you’re studying and reviewing your material, take notes of things you intend to ask about. Once you find the answer, note it down as well. If feeling like you’re not familiar with the syllabus and chapters makes you on the shaky side, this tip will help you big time. Ask the teachers, teaching assistants, and friends. Hell, you can even ask the internet while keeping in mind that not all sources are trusted. For GCSE/A Level students like myself, BBC offers resourceful revision materials online, with diagrams and lots of helpful pointers. Not everything in the GCSE syllabus applies to ours, but it’s a great resource, nonetheless.

2. Stay away from the ‘hanes2at’ group

We all know this certain group of people who radiate negative energy during exam seasons by chanting happy mantras of their dreams of getting an F on their finals and staying up all night complaining about how hard the material is. They can be your best friends, but they shouldn’t be on the top of your contacts list during exam seasons. You don’t need to hear about the difficulty of the syllabus, how others can’t manage to pass, or how the task of studying is so unfathomable. The thing is, when all you hear is that you’re not going to do good in your exam, you’re not going to do good. This is how powerful your brain is: it makes what you believe into reality. The mantra that you should be repeating and listening to instead that you’re going to do your best, no matter what.

3. Don’t take your breaks away

You need time to disconnect from your textbooks and connect to the real world. Studying for hours non-stop is not your ticket to straight A’sーthat’s your ticket to a drained mind and soul. Take regular breaks, you deserve them.

4. Plan your studying routine

Not down to the minute, but have a generally simple and easy-to-follow plan already set.

Here’s an example to help you out.

  • Wake up and get ready for the day by 9 am
  • Prepare desk by 9.30 am
  • Do subject x for until 10.30 am (read material)
  • Break until 10.50 am
  • Practice until 12 pm (take a ten-minute break after 45 minutes of continuous studying)
  • Relax until 1 pm
  • Study subject y until 2 pm
  • Practice until 4 pm (breaks included)

You don’t have to follow my plan because that’s a plan which suits me. Maybe you’re more of a night owl than I am and would prefer to study during the late-night and early hours of the morning, and that’s okay. However, please do not add new tasks on a day and plan to execute them on the same day. Your to-do list should be (idealistically) set the night before and shouldn’t undergo any major edits.

5. Do something you like at the end of each day

Go for a walk, go get ice cream, or just watch a movie. Exam season doesn’t have to take away the moments that you enjoy living. Finals just change your priorities around, but you’re still allowed to relax to diffuse away your anxiety.

6. Doing your best is enough.

Let’s define ‘best’. Doing your best is genuinely working on your studies, regardless of the results. We go to uni/schools for the sole purpose of learning, and this is what counts. You’re not a grade nor a number. Here’s this reminder that regardless of your grades, I’m proud of you for exerting your best.

7. Make your studying space distraction-free

Leave your phone in a separate room. I reckon that checking your feed is not worth the trip down the hallway at all. You can go to study-cafes or co-working spaces if this will motivate you to get things done.

8. Don’t sacrifice your sleep

I can’t stress this enough. Your performance in your exam depends on your sleep as much as it depends on the extent to which you have grasped the material. Get a good night’s sleep, always. Speaking of sleep, for some people, coffee can compromise their sleeping hours a bit. However, if you constantly struggle with anxiety and drinking coffee worsens this for you, try to work around your sleeping schedule instead of altering it. Maybe even compensate for coffee with tea, take timed naps, and what not to try and remain focused.

9. Have something sweet just before your exam

Research conducted a while ago proved that having sugar in your system improves your performance in tasks that require attention. Juice, chocolate, brownies, cake, cookies, fruitsーanything would suffice. Although, it is much preferred that you have some complex sugars, so fruit – bananas and dates especially – as well as raw honey, are your best bets and safest options.

Here are some links to great study tips to help you with your material. Click here for note-taking tips, here for an online classes guide, here for maths revision tips, and here for economics/business revision tips.

Best of luck, sending love and support.

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