How To Not Fry Your Brain During Finals Week

A warm breeze blows, the sun shines, other students are outside enjoying the nice weather, and then you remember that you have four papers due, three tests, and two group projects that could make or break your final grade. The best part? You have no motivation to do any of it. Brutality comes hand in hand with the end of semesters: your brain is fried, you slept a solid eight hours over the past four days, and somehow you probably forgot to eat today. How many papers can someone write all while keeping their sanity? Here are some tips to keep up your GPA and your mental well-being while you finish out the semester:

Stay Organized

According to American University Psychology, Professor Dr. Noemí Enchautegui-de-Jesús, said “Students need to list things to do, break it up, and then estimate, and allocate their time appropriately.”

Admit it, your laundry sits everywhere, your notes are scattered and one of your practice marketing tests currently doubles as a coaster for the eighth cup of coffee you’ve consumed in the last two days. Staying organized feels hard enough when life isn’t crazy, but pile on the assignments, tests, and all-nighters and you might as well live in a zoo. Take back control—spend 10 or 15 minutes to clean up your space. Wash your clothes and take out those food wrappers and empty Starbucks cups. You’ll feel better and more prepared to tackle the real work in front of you when you don’t have as much distraction.

Change Your Scenery

That one corner of the library is the best place, huh? Well, maybe it is time to move on to a new place. It is proven that mixing up study places actually increases productivity. No need to completely abandon a study spot that works for you, but don’t hesitate to explore new places on campus and introduce a little adventure into your study life.

“I will compare this to working out,” says Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs at American University Kogod School of Business, Gregory Bailey. “If you always do the same workout every time, you’re going to get bored of it, and then you’re going to say that you don’t want to go for a run. But, if someone asks if you want to play tennis instead, that’s a workout but it sounds different and more fun. Just be mindful of what works for you.”

Let Your Brain Rest

You studied Biology for three obnoxious hours. You can’t tell if you’re hallucinating or if that computer has actually started talking back. Even if you’re on a roll, you need to take a break.

“I know this really varies by professors,”said Professor Rodger Streittmatter from American University’s School of Communication, “But one thing I like to tell my students and particularly in my classes is that most of the work is really behind you at this point,”

Although this truly depends on the class, it feels good to know that this (hopefully) rings true for a couple of your courses.

Fulfill Your Basic Needs

Sometimes all it takes is just the right bite of a hot piece of pizza or a square of creamy chocolate to liven your senses. Or maybe it’s giving yourself that extra hour of sleep instead of cramming more for your statistics test. Everyone tells us to get more sleep, but we laugh and continue to stay up for hours on end and think our twenty-minute power nap at three in the afternoon will suffice. There just always seems to be more important things to do and better places to be.

“Learning about how you take care of yourself while you’re going through something like that is also a process,” said Psychologist Traci E. Callandrillo, Ph.D. “You might be somebody who just doesn’t do very well if you don’t get sleep. So if you say ‘I’m going to pull an all-nighter to write this paper and then I’m going to take a final the next day,’ and you fall apart because your body just doesn’t work very well that way, that’s not going to go very well for you.”

Think About the Bigger Picture

For some, life after college is quickly approaching. Right now, life is consumed with grades, GPAs, and finals. So, realize that in the scheme of things, life will go on even if you bomb your chemistry final or if your project really doesn’t go as planned.

Callandrillo also said, “Pay attention to what worked and what didn’t work at the end of this semester, and use that information to start over next semester.” Callandrillo went on to remind students that at the end of the day, we are just taking courses, not our life.

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