Students Studying in Bobst

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during finals season. With all of the exams, essays, and pressure to keep your grades up, it’s important that you take time to protect your mental health as well. Here are some tips that can help you stay sane during the end of the semester!

1. Get enough sleep.

It may be tempting to pull an all-nighter in Bobst - but this will only lead to burnout! Whenever I feel stressed or overworked, sleep is my first priority. Make sure you are getting at least 7-9 hours per night (everyone has different sleep needs!), and try to keep non-negotiable wind-down and wake-up times. Your mental and physical health will thank you.

2. Stay hydrated.

Between your runs to Starbucks, The Bean, or Think Coffee…make sure you are getting enough water! I like to use a water bottle with times written on it to make sure I am drinking enough throughout the day.

3. Plan ahead and prioritize tasks.

Being prepared is an act of self-care. You are being kind to your future self by not putting them in a position to rush or stress about an assignment. I like to use Microsoft To-Do and Google Calendar to organize all of my tasks for the week. I also keep a whiteboard in my room that I decorate with markers every month to list out my responsibilities. Find what works for you and try to prioritize all of your tasks by their deadline. Then, you can take a deep breath and tackle them, knowing you have plenty of time.

Planning on Calendar


4. Set aside some time for movement.

This means something different for everyone. You might need to go for a long run, or hit the gym to feel your best. Or perhaps you would rather take a brisk walk outside, take a dance class, or go for a bike ride. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect, and remember that this is an act of love for yourself. You deserve this time.

5. Make sure you are getting proper nutrition.

There is no final exam on earth worth skipping a meal for. Make sure you are eating enough to stay full and energized throughout the day and feel your best. I personally like to stock up on snacks, frozen meals, and pre-made salads and sandwiches from Trader Joe’s in case I need something in a pinch.

6. Set boundaries.

With so many opportunities in grad school, it can be difficult to say “No.” But sometimes, you will need to decline taking on an extra project outside of schoolwork, going out for a long night, or taking an extra work shift because you know it is the best decision for you.


People Doing Yoga

7. Try yoga and meditation.

With yoga and meditation, a little goes a long way. Even 5-10 minutes can help refresh you and clear your mind. Personally, I’m a big fan of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She has practices ranging from 5 minutes to an hour, and they are accessible for many different levels. I also really like Nourished Natasha, Yoga with Shaunneka, Yoga Green Book, Jessamyn Stanley, and Trans Yoga Teacher.

8. Make a distinction between “work time” and “play time.”

It can feel overwhelming to have so many tasks to complete. This is why I try to be fully in the moment for whatever task I am doing. I will set a timer for one hour, and I will commit to doing my most urgent task wholeheartedly for that hour. The only rule is that I need to consistently work on the project, with no page goal, etc. After the timer goes off, I get 15-20 minutes to myself, before I go back and set the timer again. This helps me be fully removed from work when I am relaxing, and more productive when I am working, without succumbing to perfectionism or procrastination. It’s relieving when you don’t feel like you need to accomplish everything all at once.


Shannon on a walk


9. Find joy in the little things.

Sometimes, you’re going to need a chestnut praline latte, a cookie from Levain, a new candle, or some Christmas Prince binge watching on Netflix, and that’s okay! You have permission to treat yourself once in a while. 

10. Focus on your excitement for the finish line!

You are in grad school because you have goals for after you get your degree. Acknowledge how exciting this is! You deserve to be proud of yourself. You probably chose your graduate degree because you are passionate about the subject and/or passionate about the path it will take you on. Remember that as long as you take care of yourself and do your best, everything will happen as it’s supposed to. You got this!