Finals week is upon us. You are living on minimum amount of sleep, sugary snacks became your breakfast, lunch and dinner and the caffeine you take in daily is usually enough to feed a whole football team. While this lifestyle certainly will make you get by, there are ways to push through finals week in healthier and less stressful ways.

  1. Get More Sleep.

Research clearly shows that without proper sleep, the material you study is not only not properly stored in your memory, you also are only half as able to recall the information during times you need it the most: the final exam. The extra hour of studying you crammed in between 3-4am last night would have been better substituted by an hour of extra sleep. If you are really concerned about your grades, get an extra hour of sleep tonight. Even if you think, you don’t have time for it. Trust me, you do. Even if that means you study less. Again, trust me: It will pay off.

  1. Breathe!

Besides lack of sleep, nutrition and fluid, stressful times also manifest in our bodies in an immediate way: Pay attention to your breath right now: Is it short and flat or deep and long? If you are stressed it is very likely short and flat. As you can imagine, that is the worst condition to fill your organs, including your brain, with the oxygen they need to function in an optimal level.

So right now, take a HUGE deep inhale, let your belly become big, hold your breath ….and then let it all out through your mouth. Ahhhh…. Roll your shoulders up and back a couple of times. Repeat 3 more times. And then, listen carefully….and you will hear your brain saying: thank youJ

Try to do this multiple times a day. Breathing deeply, research shows, activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the autonomous nervous system responsible for us to relax and digest. It is also the system that helps our brain make newly learned materials stick. So, if you catch yourself running around throughout your day like a chicken with their head cut off, STOP, and take 3 deep breath.

Use your phone and set the alarm for 3 random times throughout your day.  Every time it rings, stop whatever you are doing and take 3 deep breath! It’s simple. It’s science. It works!

  1. Stop Multitasking

As if finals week overall is not enough, but finals week in the digital age provides an additional challenge for your brains and emotional well-being. Multitasking, that is studying, or listening to a lecture while texting or checking social media notifications, is something students now do constantly—to the detriment of their learning and grades. Especially during finals week, multitasking really is the last thing you need. Research shows that college students who multitask not only deliver lower quality work, but also take much longer completing their work.

Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” for 90 minutes at a time to make the most of your study session.

What does that mean for you right now?

When you try to finish that final paper and allow text and social media notifications to disturb you, on your phone or computer, your work will suffer in quality and it will take you much longer to complete it. In my social media and happiness class, I have my students participate in a 24 hour unplugged challenge and they most often report how not having their phones makes them finish their homework in half the time.

So, here is how you can speed up your work during finals:

For 90 minutes, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb Mode”. After 90 minutes, take a break. Check your texts and snaps, connect with your friends, make plans for the night (after all, you will be done much faster doing this:) and scroll through Instagram. But don’t do it longer than 15 minutes. And then: Repeat. Unplug for another 90 minutes. Do this 4-5 times and boom! Finals week suddenly became a breeze.

Finally, if you still feel anxious, have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing 100mph, or your body is all beat up from all that sitting and studying, join us on Monday, May 15 at 6pm for 1 hour of free yoga on the lawn to de-stress, sponsored by the School of Communication.

You Got this!