Finals Survival Tips: How to eat an elephant

Finals Survival Tips: How to eat an elephant

If you have ever had to deal with simply too much at one time, you may know the answer to this question.  You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

At this point in the semester, finals can easily morph into a large, hairy beast capable of striking fear into the heart of college students.  While the pressure can feel insurmountable, if you manage your time wisely, and take care of yourself, you can make the best of the end of the semester.

Though time management can seem almost impossible, it is key to doing anything in life successfully. While procrastination can seemingly buy you some extra time, it can become your worst enemy.

To prevent procrastination, sit down with a calendar ahead of time and map out everything you have going on. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Think about your tests and projects and do them a little bit at a time daily.

When it comes to studying, know what methods work best for you. Learners are categorized as visual, auditory, kinesthetic or writing and reading.  If you are an auditory learner, read things aloud. Studies show that you can more successfully commit things to memory by saying them out loud rather than reading. Kinesthetic learners are those that learn through action and should try online interactive games with their material or highlighting their notes with different colors to form associations. Visual learners absorb material best through graphs and can categorize their notes or make mind maps, while reading and writing learners can try making flashcards. Site allows its users to make their own flashcards to study and play games with their terms.

Also, make sure you are in the right environment. If you easily get distracted, find a quiet place and put up everything that you do not need to study. If your phone is a source of distraction, the app, SelfControl, allows you to set study times and select apps that cannot be opened during that time.

In creating the perfect study environment, try listening to some classical music. Research gathered by Stanford’s school of medicine has proven classical music engages the brain and puts you in a better mood.

However, it’s important to take a break every once and a while. Again, know yourself and take care of yourself.  If you feel stress and anxiety building up, take a break.

Prolonged stress and anxiety can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal illnesses and eating disorders.  It reveals itself physically and emotionally in different ways that can include loss of sleep, appetite and productivity. Other manifestations include irritability, nausea, tension in the neck, body aches and acid reflux, which can lead to ulcers.

“The best time to deal with stress and anxiety is when they start feeling those first warning signs,” said Jennifer Hart, UTM Student Health and Counseling Services coordinator.

One management tool is conversation. Call home and talk to a family member or speak to a friend about what is going on in your life.

“A good way to deal with the anxiety is talking because it’s a release,” Hart said.

Students can also seek local professional help. The UT Martin Student Health and Counseling Services has three certified counselors available for students. The center is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students may make appointments or walk in at little to no charge.

Additionally, the center does outreach programs throughout the school year like the Chill Out Zone, which is set up in the Boiling University Center at the end of every semester. As part of the program, students can make homemade stress balls, eat popcorn and snow cones, play Stress-Free Bingo and receive a T-shirt.

In the midst of all of the studying and mental preparation, make sure to get plenty of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, young adults age 18 to 25 should get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If this cannot be done, do not overlook the benefits of napping.

Sleep expert Michael Breus Ph.D., outlines the benefits of different lengths of naps in an article on Huffington Post.  Breus says that naps that last 25-30 minutes allow the body to rest without entering into a deep sleep and making you even more tired when you wake. However, a full cycle 90-minute-snooze is optimal and allows the body to enter REM sleep.  Even 10 minutes of shut-eye has been proven to impact alertness, Breus says.

Another way to feel fresh is through exercise. UTM Coordinator of Fitness, Kimberly Olive-Milligan, calls exercise “meditation in motion.”

“Your brain starts to focus on what your body is doing and the mechanics of that and you’re not focused on the test that you have the next day,” Olive-Milligan said.

The Student Recreation Center hosts 12 free classes taught by students that include a variety of workouts from cycling to yoga. They are from Monday through Thursday and go from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Researchers at the University of Illinois have even found that 20 minutes of physical activity before an exam can enhance your performance.

While it’s tempting to reach for the fast foods and caffeinated beverages, stay away from them. Neither are good for your body or mind, so grab a healthier snack that will boost your brain power.  For example, nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts are not only a good source of fatty acids, but they contain lots of iron to provide oxygen to the brain to increase alertness and information retention. Apples also contain an antioxidant in their peel called quercetin, which is tied to memory function. Other good foods to eat include spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, and berries.

Whatever your methods of success are during this final bit of madness, take a deep breath and relax. It is almost over and you have got this.


(Photo Credit/

Print Friendly