President's Blog

Top 10 ways to manage stress during finals

Guest blogger: Beth Cabrera

With finals week quickly approaching (Dec. 10-17 at Mason) you might think you can’t afford to focus on your well-being. On the contrary, you can’t afford not to!  Taking care of yourself may well be the most important thing you can do handle the pressure and do well.

Here are our top suggestions:

  1. Don’t go into isolation mode. Yes, you might need solitude to study for exams, but don’t completely withdraw socially. Meet a friend for lunch or coffee or a walk. Social support is key for coping with stress.
  2. Don’t abandon your exercise routine. Working out is a good way to relieve stress, and physical activity boosts your energy level and mental clarity. If you’re going to sweat an exam, this is the way to do it!
  3. Skip the junk food. Eating well plays a crucial role in your ability to handle stress. Good nutrition helps you stay alert and healthy. It’s tempting to save time by grabbing something from the nearest vending machine. Make smart choices or, better yet, take a break with a friend to eat a healthy meal together.
  4. Get sufficient rest. Late-night study sessions can negatively affect your test performance. Adequate sleep is necessary for concentration and memory recall. A quick nap between exams can help you maintain your energy level throughout the day.
  5. Don’t give an exam more importance than it actually has. Remind yourself that any particular test is one of many you will take as a student. No single exam measures your potential or determines your future. Try to keep things in perspective.
  6. Value learning over performance. The most successful people adopt a growth mindset, recognizing that it is more important to learn than it is to get the top grade. Stretching yourself to learn something new exercises your brain, which helps you improve over time.
  7. Be grateful. Take a minute to think about what is good in your life or write down three things for which you are thankful. Gratitude reduces anxiety and strengthens your immune system.
  8. Be happy. Seriously. Think of something that makes you happy before you start taking your exam. Or talk to someone who makes you happy. Students do better on tests when they are in a good mood.
  9. Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. College exams can be very hard. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the grade you wanted. Treat yourself with the same caring and concern that you would a loved one.
  10. If everything else fails, use your Mason resources. Should you need some support during finals week (or at any time), we have terrific staff here to help you:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 703-993-2380
Student Health Services: 703-993-2831 (Fairfax), 703-993-4863 (Arlington), 703-993-8374 (Prince William)
Student Support: 703-993-5376
Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education Services (WAVES): 703-993-9999

Best of luck everyone!