Your Finals Survival Guide (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Deal with Stress)

Áine Cain is the editor of The Flat Hat, the student newspaper at William and Mary. When she’s not running around campus, she enjoys rambling on about history and drinking tea. She is also a regular Campus Contributor to, bringing you community news from the Peninsula and a look at student life in Hampton Roads. Today, she’s helping students around Hampton Roads tackle final exams.



The semester may seem to be winding down for college students, but this is just the calm before the academic storm. Finals are coming. Here are some helpful tips to prevent physical and mental burnout:

Have a game plan: If you’re going to succeed at finals without losing your mind, you’ll need a good plan. Avoid all-nighters and other unpleasant antics by prioritizing your work and keeping to a schedule. Set a lot of alarms to keep you moving through material. If you find social media and click bait distracting, use website-blocking software like SelfControl. Break up large tasks. I won’t say that writing a term paper the night before is impossible, but it’s certainly unpleasant and avoidable if you’re smart about budgeting your time.

Eat like a human being: A balanced, healthy diet is key year-round, but the stress of exams often prompts students to reach for the vending machine chips instead of vegetables. Try to keep your meal times consistent, or you’ll risk binging on WaWa mac and cheese during late night study sessions. Stock up on fruit from the cafeteria for healthy study snacks. If you’re craving something more decadent, reward yourself for breezing through your flashcards with a reasonable amount of chocolate.

Step away from the caffeine: Let’s be clear; coffee does not a meal make, even during finals. It’s counterintuitive, but try not to use caffeine as a crutch. Avoid the energy drink concoctions too. You’re better off hydrating with water and hyping yourself up naturally over the prospect of relaxing during winter break.

Hit the hay: Would you show up to a final exam drunk? Of course you wouldn’t. Did you know that moderate sleep deprivation could leave you as impaired as someone with a BAC of 0.1%? Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, or you’ll basically be taking all your tests intoxicated.

Have fun: Just kidding. Finals are the opposite of fun. However, that doesn’t mean you have to make yourself miserable. If your school has any sort of finals programming such as stress-relieving dogs, art therapy, free candy in the library, take advantage of that. Socialize with your fellow studiers. Grab lunch with your friends. Take a walk outside. Exercise. Call your family. Obviously you need to focus on your studies, but sitting holed up in the library for 24 hours isn’t healthy. Take a break every now and then and you’ll feel less like an overflowing bag of stress and emotions and more like a person.

Now get out there and ace those exams. You can do it!

How do you handle stress? Comment below or shoot us an email:!