Editorial—Caring for yourself during exam week

North Wind Staff

Many of us are struggling with healthy studying habits and balancing well-being with productivity at this time of the year. So, we’ve collected some helpful ideas for getting things done during exam time.

Firstly, take a breath. In fact, take five minutes and just breathe. When we put too much pressure on ourselves to do well, that’s when we crack, which cuts into our work and ends up being detrimental. There’s enough pressure coming at us from the outside, so the least we can do for ourselves is take a moment when we really need to. Alongside studying for exams, there is still life to be lived. For seniors, make sure to appreciate the last couple of weeks you have here. Relish the college experience. Balance your humanity with your productivity.

Alongside that, if you find yourself intensely struggling, don’t be afraid to lean on your friends, family and community. Our mental health benefits when we can lean on each other. At the end of the day, you’re just a student. You’re just a person, you’re just a friend, and you’re doing the best you can. We would suggest that students never deeply fault themselves for doing poorly on an exam or struggling with projects when you’re trying so hard, because at the end of the day it’s just an exam. The more important thing is that you are doing well mentally and that you have the support system you need.

We know the college student stereotype for exam week is staying up for consecutive all-nighters, drinking Red Bull and cramming. But that’s really not effective if you want to do well in this exam cycle. Instead, we recommend spacing out the work. One method that you might find helpful is setting a timer. Work for 10 or 20 minutes, and then rest for 10. Repeat until your task or assignment is complete.

Alternatively, set long study sessions with long break-times scheduled afterwards. This gives you the opportunity to perhaps take a walk outside, get some fresh air, and move your body, which will help you be productive when you return to the grind. Try to write down each task you need to complete and set a day to do it. That way you can space out your work and keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by any one subject at a time.

Another helpful habit we recommend is finding an ideal location to study. For many students, sitting in their room kills their productivity and motivation. Maybe we get distracted easily, we feel lazy, anxious or bored. If that sounds like you, try studying in other locations. Coffee shops can be excellent if you’re all right with a busy atmosphere (as a bonus, you can reward yourself with lattes whenever you finish a task). For those who thrive on peace and quiet, there’s always the upper floor of Lydia Olson Library. Experiment with a few places and see what works for you.

If changing location doesn’t sound like a viable or desirable option, change your environment in some other way. Music, white noise, or ASMR helps many of us access a state of concentration. Put in your earbuds and turn up the volume. Block out everything outside and get in the zone.

Remember that your sleep is important and is not something to sacrifice at this time. Sleep helps you function. If you’re rested in the morning, you’ll be able to accomplish what you need to much more effectively. Taking care of yourself will boost your success overall. You can go for a walk and take care of your mental health and just be outside. There’s no need to get completely lost in school and work and studying and exams because they matter, but they don’t matter enough to sacrifice your health.

Ultimately, we’re near the finish line for the 2021-2022 academic year. Keep in mind that mental health is more important than short-term academic progress, because in the end when we look back on our time here we’re not going to remember the studying or our test scores. We’ll remember our experiences with friends and community. The memories we make on campus are more important than the exams we take.