Friday, May 1, 2015

7 Tips to More Than Survive Finals

Well folks, finals are fast approaching. Yay. And what's worse, for me, is that this just so happens to be my second round of finals this semester. Can I hear another yay...

Okay, it's not all doom and gloom over here. There is a blessing of having two sets of 3 finals in one semester, rather than having one set of 6 finals at once. I took 6 classes this semester, but they were 1/2 semester classes (which means very compact, fast-paced classes. But it also means only 3 at a time, rather than 6 all at the same time). I chose this method so that I could continue to work full-time hours and volunteer (plus a few other things) while I got my education.

Once I get through this semester (and I plan on more than just surviving it), it's on to a four-year college for me. I'll be graduating in 2017 with a degree in Politics and History, plus my associates degrees previously acquired. It's a long, tiring haul til the end.

But I know it's worth it.
And while I am no expert on studying or taking finals, after 4 semesters of over 25+ finals I know a thing or two that I can share with you.

So college student (or perhaps highschool student), here's a few ways I've found that'll help you more than survive finals.


Take a moment, right now, and write down just 5 simple things you are thankful for.


Now bring that list with you throughout finals week(s).

I know you're stressed to the extent of your intellectual capacity, or at least it feels like that. You've got 1,001 things that need to be done, plus all the things you'd rather be doing. I'm right there with you.

But when you're having a tough day, go back and look at that list. Be reminded of the things that make you happy, that make you smile, that make you grateful to be alive. We are blessed to have the privilege to stress over school. Privileged, you say? Yes, privileged, because there are millions who don't even get that chance. And trust me, although that piece of glamorous construction paper you'll receive at the end of what may feel like a four-year-hell seems like a big deal, in reality it's NOT going to keep you from living another day, another year, or a long, vibrant, purposeful life. I promise you that.

Be grateful. This time will soon pass. 


And then stick to it. Have 4 exams, 3 essays, and a boatload of homework to do in the next week(s) before classes end? Create a schedule to get them done. Don't wait til the day of to decide what you want to get done, because you'll end up procrastinating big time.

Okay, so I know procrastination is part of taking finals (even my best laid plans don't always work out and I'm scrambling to get the last bit of studying done before a final). But make that plan, schedule out your week as best as you are able. And then for the life of all that is good, stick to that plan! You'll be surprised to find you end the week of finals with a lot more of your sanity left than it would have been otherwise had you not planned.

Trust me, making a plan works.


Sure you're going to be stressed out of your mind at points, and are probably thinking right now, Breaks? Are you kidding me? Ain't nobody got time for dat! But seriously, if you're sticking to point II, you'll have some 1/2 hrs and 1 hrs here and there to relieve stress and refresh your brain. 

A few great ways to utilize your breaks:
  1. Create. Do some sort of artistic endeavor, like writing, designing, photography, coding, painting or whatever your creative hobby you enjoy.
  2. Read. Sure you're reading a bunch of other material for finals, but taking a break to read some of your favorite novels, short stories, comics, or cartoon strips will give your left side brain a chance to chill and recoup before you get back in there to kick those final's butts.
  3. Exercise (see point VI).
  4. Get outside. This could mean a quick walk, a climb up a tree (who doesn't love to climb trees?), a visit with a friend (who is also taking a break between finals, of course), or perhaps a jog to your local grocery store for some *healthly* snacks. 

Whatever you do, take breaks throughout your studying and please give your brain a little chill time.


I know it's really easy to either not eat enough, because you're rushing everywhere, or to eat too much while studying (wait, where did that bag of chips go?). But I can't stress enough how important eating well truly is for your body. You need fuel to study those long hours, but you need the right kind of fuel (and no, those 3 donuts do not count). 

Here are a few quick and healthy/high in protein food ideas:
Keep yourself hydrated (lots of water) and keep your brain (and your body) well-fed. I promise it'll make all the difference when taking finals.


So while what the meme below says (one does not simply sleep during finals week) may be largely true, in order to more than survive this week you've GOT to get a few hours of sleep in each night.

If you have a lot of studying to do, try and get to bed earlier (rather than later) and get up just a little bit earlier. A good friend told me it's better to do a lot of school with more sleep behind you than less sleep.

It's almost a guarantee there'll be at least 1 all-nighter in your future this week. I know there is for me. But get in at least 5-7 hours a night, as best as you are able to do so. It shouldn't be too hard if you're following point II. Give it your best shot, and you'll thank me later.


Sure, exercising may also be one of the last things on your to-do list this week. But believe me, you'll thank me if you fit in a few runs, some cardio, weights, or some long study walks in during this week.

I personally like to take about a 15 minute break in between my studying sessions and have a mini dance sesh. I pick 3-4 different up beat songs (check out my Like a Drum, Don't Stop Beatin' playlist on Spotify for ideas), and dance to them. I've been teaching myself various dance moves/styles, as well as making up a few of my own. Dancing is a great way to get in some cardio, while also rocking out to your favorite songs and, dare I say, have fun. And I don't even care if I look ridiculous. Dropping and doing some push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks is also a good and quick way to get your heart rate up and keep your mind focused.  

So get out there and move during finals week. It'll stimulate your brain, release some of that built up frustration/stress over finals, and keep you awake during those all-nighters you may pull.


Okay, so that sounds like a given. But seriously, don't whack out your sleeping schedule (V), don't eat junk food (and food late at night!; IV), don't skip out on exercising (VI) because you're too busy or too stressed out ... because even if at the time you may think it's a good idea, you're only hurting yourself in the long run. And further setting yourself up for a longer recovery after finals.

Most importantly, have courage and DO YOUR BEST! 

That's what it comes down to:
Make wise decisions,
get sleep,
eat well,
take breaks,
be grateful,
and ultimately just put your best foot forward and do your very best. 

And here's my compilation of some of the best finals memes, just because one can never have enough memes. #finalsweek

Now get out there and more than survive those finals. 
You've got this! You shall win the day.

All text © 2015 Footprints in the Sand | All Images © 2015 Charity Klicka, last two images via and  LOTR Movie, graphic design by Charity Klicka

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