How to pass your finals (and stay sane)

Six routines and habits to implement into your life before school ends
Driving along Malibu to watch the sunset as a way of letting go and recharging.
Driving along Malibu to watch the sunset as a way of letting go and recharging.
Ella Suos

LOS ALAMITOS, CA – With summer on the horizon, studying can seem a little depressing. Consequently, the stressful pressure to accomplish tasks is slowly fading away. The harsh reality is mind-numbing, but with these simple habits, you could lighten your stacks of studies with ease and intention. 

Wake up early to study instead of going to bed late

Seriously, this one works! The Harvard Crimson recalls a lecture by neurology professor Clifford B. Saper where he emphasized alertness, empathy, and sleep management. To sum it up, each cognitive ability was connected and provided a collective advantage to performing well on tests, projects, and papers. 

If you need to wake up at 5 a.m. and go to bed at 9 p.m., then so be it! Obstacles like procrastination, late-night junk food, and screen addictions can make the journey to early rising tougher, as they only increase feelings of overwhelmedness. 

“Go to bed at midnight and do your hour of studying at 7 a.m.,” Saper said. “It makes more sense to do it then, rather than between midnight and 1 a.m.”

Imagine a calm, slow sunrise with no interruptions. Very few people are awake, and you won’t need to depend on coffee because your body has time to reach its peak wakefulness. 

Hug someone you love

To drown in fear or feel lost in life would have to be the most painful state of mind. I’d honestly rather hide under my blanket for a week. Convincing myself that it was only a phase never worked, and neither did letting it out on someone else. When your world starts to feel like it’s closing in on you, hug someone you love. 

Emma Chamberlain, in the Vogue story “Emma Chamberlain Talks Anxiety, Burnout, and Perfectionism,” talks with writer Gillian Sagansky about how she puts her intrusive thoughts into perspective with an all-consuming mind. She ran deep into her separation anxiety, depression, and childhood.

“When I’m having anxiety around people that I love, I try to talk about it and say that I’m having anxiety because whoever I’m with helps me calm down, you know?” Chamberlain said. 

In addition to being soothing and therapeutic, it’s scientifically proven that hugs lower heart rates and reduce blood pressure.

“The release of endorphins is commonly associated with the after-effects of vigorous exercise, but endorphins kick in through a variety of ways. They are the happiness boosters that move us away from pain to pleasure,” said Barbara Field in the article “Why You Feel Like You Need a Hug From Someone.” 

Listen to a podcast that leaves you feeling enlightened

If you constantly fill your mind with futile rushes of dopamine or cram it with useless stressors, it’s almost impossible to naturally flow into your work with a silent mind, much less an optimistic attitude. 

Some of my favorite podcasts to listen to include “anything goes with emma chamberlain,” “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and “Moments Podcast” with Lexi Hidalgo. 

With a more mellow form of entertainment, it’s going to seem boring and “too quiet” when you compare it to Instagram reels or blasted music, binge eating, or gossiping. Boring is also another word for uncomfortable. In an age where boredom is becoming harder to find, a lot of people have adapted to an unhealthy, speedy lifestyle. 

By taking time to voluntarily learn something and go through that process of analyzing, you’re resetting your mind for the challenges ahead. 

Build belief 

One of the simplest and most fulfilling endeavors is the act of visualizing and confronting your biggest challenges. In honor of retired Navy Seal chief and ultramarathon runner David Goggins, master your mind and defy the odds! 

The people who are willing to set unrealistic goals and still believe in accomplishing them are the same people who consistently choose to tackle their perceived limits day after day. Fuel your ambition with every failure knowing that failure doesn’t exist: They’re attempts. 

“You can’t read a book to get through hell. You have to face your hell and climb out,” Goggins said in his book “Can’t Hurt Me.”

Ride around the beach with friends 

Unlike school, the beach can bring back sincere memories where love and gratitude are profound. Just hearing the waves crash against the mossy rocks sends out a vibration that’s almost surreal and hypnotizing. Every time I bike down to Seal Beach with my friends or spend an evening watching the sunset in Huntington, I can forget about homework and teachers completely. It’s a real free feeling that takes away those late May blues. 

“It’s all about planning things to look forward to and be excited about. Whether it’s a barbecue, a dinner with friends, or going on a little trip, just giving myself something to look forward to will hold me over for another week,” Chamberlain said to Vogue

Mix up your study setting, with the exception of your bed

How boring must it be to study in the same place every day after school! Although it seems cliche, changing up the scenery once in a while can offer significant benefits and help your mind differentiate relaxation from study time. 

Putting yourself in an environment without dirty laundry on the floor or inadequate lighting will stimulate concentration. Many students find that cafés boost creativity and productivity. 

“A good study space should definitely have natural lighting, comfy seating, and good background music,” said Roma Kubis, a sophomore.

Harriet Bennett expands on the importance of curating a good study space in The Wake Magazine’s story “You Should Never Study in Bed.” 

Trust me, I’ve gone through too many nights in bed where I “accidentally” fell asleep while studying. I would wake up late in the morning and immediately regret how I spent my time. I decided to investigate and found that I was actually fighting to keep my eyes open when I studied in bed. 

“If you study in bed a lot, you will train your brain to think that your bed is the place to study. So, when it’s time to sleep, you’ll have a much harder time falling asleep because your brain won’t want to turn off,” Bennett said. 

Final thoughts

It’s really all about decluttering your mind, whether that means sacrificing late nights or changing up your study playlist. Remember, finals will last for less than a week, and then it’s over. In the meantime, don’t let laziness and over-obsession hurt your momentum.

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    Katie ArnoultMay 24, 2024 at 11:28 am

    I love all of these ideas and how you backed up your tips and tricks with research!