Managing stress and anxiety around finals

November 26, 2019

Finals time is upon us.

The time of year every college student dreads, and also the time that signals the upcoming relief of a break. For Augustana, this semester in particular brings extra stress with the transition from trimesters for older students and the first college finals experience for first-year students.

The task of every student is to make it through finals with the least amount of stress and anxiety. In reality, it's not possible to make it through without ANY stress of anxiety. 

As long as we care about something and value it (like your grades, hopefully), there will be some pressure to do well. So the best option is to figure out how to manage that stress in the most effective way.

I can remember my own experiences with finals (for real, it wasn't THAT long ago) and I remember what worked for me. Here are some tips for managing finals stress.


Which class is the one that needs the most attention? Do you need to designate more time to study for the final test or final paper that's due? Each student has different needs, and no one knows what you need more than you.

Maybe you need to figure out your current grade in order to figure this out. Do it. And preferable sooner rather than later.


Now that you've figured out what class or classes need the most attention, plan out your time. I have plenty of people tell me that they don't like to be too scheduled, but honestly, this is for one to two weeks. It'll be well worth it to have some semblance of a plan of how to spend your time.

Use your Google calendar or planner. Or, you can try this free printable schedule if you're someone who wants a paper copy. 

Not sure how to plan or set it up? That leads to my next tip. 

Ask for help.

Do you have that friend who's so organized it blows your mind? Ask them for the scheduler they use or if they have time to help you plan.

Maybe you have a specific question for your professor. Ask them.

Is there a study group set up for the course you're taking? If not, maybe you invite some of your classmates to one.

Set up extra meetings with your tutor if you have one. We don't have to do everything by ourselves, so it's good practice to ask for help.

It's also important to realize that the people can say no, if they aren't able to.don't want to. Just like we can. 

Some other good tips:

While you're planning, don't forget to take breaks. Seriously. Schedule in some time for rest, relaxation and fun. You cannot study for hours on end without taking breaks and expect to retain information.

Maybe you schedule in Insta breaks as a reward for studying for a certain amount of time.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and like you can't focus, you probably need a break.

You could also try a meditation app like Headspace, Calm or Stop Breathe and Think. Meditating for as little as five minutes can help you relax and calm yourself.

Attending your counseling appointment will also help you take a break from studying and the get the support you need. 

Or, maybe for your rest looks like a pizza break for dinner with your friends.

Taking care of your physical wellness is another important practice. You have to eat. If you can eat in a way that makes your body feel good, even better. But ultimately, some food is better than none.

If you're distracted by hunger and feelings of weakness, you're not going to be studying effectively. Getting rest is also needed. If you can plan your studying effectively, you'll have time for sleep. 

If you're delirious from lack of sleep, you aren't going to produce quality work, anyway. Maybe schedule naps for yourself if you need them.

Also know, your worth is not determined by how you perform or what you achieve. Of course, I want you to pass your classes and do well. But your worth as a human being is not diminished if you don't.