5 strategies to help you manage finals week stress

It’s no secret that finals can be a stressful time for most students. Add the stress of a pandemic, and it can feel downright overwhelming.

If this describes what you’re feeling, you are not alone.

Although it’s not a cure-all, there are some steps you can take to help you manage your stress as you prepare for finals week. The psychiatric professionals at the University Health Center help students with these concerns all the time. Here are five of their tried-and-true tips you can apply to your life to help you have a successful finals week:

1. Take a break and get active

Exercise is a natural form of antidepressant. It releases endorphins that help promote a positive mood, increases focus and helps reduce stress. Pick a physical activity you enjoy – whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the gym, practicing yoga or something else – and make time to do it several times a week leading up to finals. Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder or add it to your calendar and stick with it.

2. Make meals a priority

Increasing evidence suggests that the gut and brain are connected and that eating can affect your mood. Don’t skip meals, especially as finals week approaches. Try to eat a balanced diet at each meal, including fruits, vegetables and proteins, and limit sugars. If lack of money or resources is a concern, the Husker Pantry can help.

3. Prioritize your goals and take them one at a time

Focusing on everything you have to accomplish before finals week can be overwhelming. Instead, break down big projects or test preparation activities into bite-sized to-do items. Write them down in a list and check them off as you go. This will help you reach your goals and boost your confidence as you conquer your list one item at a time.

4. Get some fresh air and sunlight.

Humans have an ancestral connection to the great outdoors. If we don’t nourish that bond, it can create stress. Nature captures our attention and can calm our nerves. If you don’t have much time in your schedule to get outside, utilize your walk back to your dorm, apartment or vehicle as an opportunity to soak in the sun and fresh air. As you walk, take your time, move slowly, breathe deeply and observe your surroundings.

5. Get support from a professional

Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough to help you manage your stress, and that’s OK. If you need extra help, there are on-campus resources that can assist you.