Self-Care During Finals

[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

Finals have arrived *insert panicked screams here* Likely, you’re reading this during your school’s reading period, or you might already be into your first weeks of finals. Last year I wrote about self-care tips to help you prepare for finals. All of these recommendations still apply, but here are some self-care tips you can use as you study during finals and as you sit for your exams.

Give yourself permission to take a break

Research has shown that taking a short break every 50-90 minutes will actually increase your productivity. How long should these breaks be? 15-17 minutes seems to be the recommended consensus. During these breaks, you should do anything but work. Eliminate screen time (put away those phones), get up, and move.  The goal is to distract yourself and stop concentrating. By giving your brain a short break, it will actually be able to retain more information and be better prepared for finals. If you are not sure what to do, Mackenzie from the The3LLife wrote something great this week that features a variety of short self-care breaks… basically things you can do in 1, 5, 15, and 60 minutes. Longer breaks can also be helpful, but if you only take 15 minutes… maybe use those breaks to meal prep!

During a final → Take a minute before you begin just to breathe

Remind yourself that you’ve got this. Before you start your exam, take a moment to breathe in for 4 seconds… hold it for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds.  This helps calm your nerves and allow you to concentrate on the question at hand. This is also a good thing to do as you move between final exam essay questions or each turn of the page for multiple-choice tests.

Meal prep

Meal prepping during your study breaks can be a form of self-care. You can use one study break to prep the food and the next break to cook. You can also take some time this weekend to meal prep for the rest of the week. Create some healthy meals to feed your brain or cook some comfort food. Your choice! Last week Mackenzie posted some great multiple-choice and quick recipes that take 15 min or less to prepare!

If you’re like me, and cooking isn’t really your thing (other than what I learned to cook during spring break as part of my self-care routine, head to the store and grab enough food to last you for finals. For me, I am going to head to Trader Joes to stock up on some easy to cook already prepared meals!

During a final → Don’t forget snacks!

Be sure to pick up some blueberry’s, almonds, or walnuts to snack on during your finals. During a 3-hour final, your brain begins to run out of fuel, so it is smart to have a small snack pack to have available during your final.

Take time to laugh

Legally Blonde's ElleLet’s be honest, finals are miserable, stressful, and unpredictable. Taking time to have a good laugh breaks the tension and can be an excellent form of self-care, according to Mayo Clinic. Laughter provides both short-term and long-term benefits. Not only can it relieve stress, but laughter also helps with oxygen intake and allows your brain to release endorphins…

Plus…. Laughter also helps to improve your immune system, improves your mood, and can relieve pain. One of my favorite ways to get a good, quick laugh is to read the posts on the Law School Memes for Edgy T14 facebook page… Yes… this brings in screen time… but… it is important to have balance, AND we need our phones to reach out to friends…

Meet Up with your friends

Take time to surround yourself with people. Studying for finals can be extremely solitary, and it is important to be around people too! Your law school friends also know what you’re going through. Sure it can be helpful to study with others, but take a moment to just check in with each other too. Enjoy a coffee break or meal together. Perhaps meeting up at the gym for a quick game of pick up or yoga is more your speed, but check in with your friends! You will all benefit from the break!

Take advantage of any programs your school offers during finals

Some schools bring in puppies, others host yoga classes, or cook breakfast for their students. Whatever it is, take the time to attend one of these events. It will help you see that you’re not alone and is a great way to use school resources for self-care!

Best of luck with finals! You’ve got this! Let me know what you like to do for self-care during finals week over @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter!