10 original and not-so-original ways to stay sane during finals week:

1.   Don’t be sedentary. As fun as camping out in the library for hours is...our bodies and our minds eventually need a break, and physical activity is a great resource. Exercise is not only a stress reliever, but it is also a good way to boost our natural energy. So, whether you need a break between subjects, or are starting to fade at the library, consider this option. No matter how pathetic your workout may be, it’s far more likely you regret not going to the gym than going to the gym.

2.   Change up your scenery. I don’t know about you, but the second I walk into the library during finals week, my stress levels increase indefinitely. I can’t tell you if it’s the kid next to me who, just as I’m about to open my book for the first time, lets me know he is two weeks into studying for our marketing final, or if it’s the frightening amount of sleep-deprived zombies staring blankly or passed out on their laptops. Regardless, I definitely recommend mixing it up and getting off campus to study with a friend somewhere new. This could be as simple as going to the Starbucks on Huguenot or on Grove. (The one in the Village is so packed with Richmond students; you may as well be in the library.) Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, I highly recommend the atmosphere of Lamplighter’s coffee shop in Richmond. You’ll leave satisfied for sure.

3.   Perfect that study playlist. In my mind, the background music is half the battle. I’m a big fan of enjoying myself while I do my homework so I like to bump some tunes to get in the zone. For writing a paper, I suggest Pandora’s Summer Hits of the 90s. When I need to focus for a test, film scores are my secret to success. Some studies even indicate that classical music can improve performance by affecting brainwaves, so it’s worth a shot, but the specificity of this tip is up to the individual’s preferences. 

4.   Get festive. Just because it’s finals doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice any of the sacred 25 days before Christmas. In fact, the holidays are a nice complement to the mood-killer that is finals week. Turn on the holiday lights. I guarantee you’ll be in a better mood. And take the time to indulge in a few of your favorite holiday classics. "Elf," anyone? Finally, relating to no. 3, when finals start to get you down, holiday music is a safe bounce-back background music choice.

5.   Indulge in some good study snacks. Ironically, one of the best events of the year is placed smack in the middle of the most miserable two weeks. That’s right , I’m talking about Midnight Munchies. There’s really nothing bad I can say about this event, so well done dining hall staff. Freshman this is not one to miss, so come hungry. On another note, it may be the one time where the entire school actively attends the same party, and if anything, I think that’s pretty cool.

6.   Socialize. Yes, during finals week we all like to joke that we have a “date with accounting” later or what not. But no, friends and study materials should remain as two distinct entities. We all need a little social interaction, and this will actually help us to increase productivity when it comes down to the wire. However, to limit this vice and not distract others, pencil in a realistic amount of time for socialization into your study days. Think about it like this: happy hour is from 5 to 6, so go do something non-study related with your friends for at least this small part of your day.

7.   Catch up on some zzz’s. Didn’t see this one coming did you? No matter how many times you read through those PowerPoint slides, and insist you really “got it” last night 3 a.m, this effort will all go out the window if you don’t give your brain a time to rest and recoup. Making sleep a priority is probably the number one rule I’ve learned in college. You are far better off calling it a night than killing yourself pulling an all-nighter before your test. This habit has a tendency lead to poor results.

8.   Make light of your misery. Either procrastination has me browsing the internet more or I’m going delusional from a lack of sleep (broke rule no. 7), but for some reason during finals week everything is just a little bit funnier. Sneak in a few SNL clips while reading your finance textbook. Embrace your mini study break and please share your findings on social media, so the rest of us can partake in the laughter. Also, this is a great time to resurface old videos, pictures, etc.

9.   Take care of yourself. Please do yourself and all of us a favor, and don’t slack on personal hygiene during these two weeks. There is absolutely no need to be in the library for 48 hours without showering; you deserve more. But more importantly, if you dress for productivity, there’s a better chance you will be productive. “ If you look good, you feel better and more confident,” Sara Hillgrove, management professor, said. “So if you don't slouch into an exam in your sweats, unshaven or showered, but take the time to clean up and dress professionally, your performance is usually better, because you feel better.”  

10. Do something for others. This is one of the best ways to pick yourself up when you need motivation. Finals is a period of time when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people that may need a little extra help. So, offer to quiz your roommate before her French exam, lend a hand on that impossible accounting problem or pick up dinner for that friend who has been in the library since it opened (then direct them to no. 7). If you typically volunteer during the week, make sure you give yourself time to still go during finals. I promise you will never wish you could have been studying.

Do your best to follow these rules, even though we know how hard it is to not get sucked into bad habits. And if you’re feeling stressed, it is important to know you’re in good company. Good luck everyone!

caroline.maugeri@richmond.edu