You made it! This is now the second full semester you have completed amidst unprecedented times! I think one thing we have learned is how resilient BYU students and professors are despite global challenges. We also know that mental health has been an important topic that is at the forefront of everyone's minds during this time, and that finals can contribute to our already long list of things to do. We hope that these mental health/study tips somewhat help all those reading feel a bit at ease going into finals week and see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can do this!
Take one, small step at a time
A lot of anxiety and overwhelming feelings stems from the pressure of feeling like we must do everything on our to-do list as soon as possible when in reality, it is impossible to do so. We are fighting a losing battle by prioritizing everything as our highest priority! Something you can do that will help avoid this practice is making a study plan. When you make a plan in advance, it helps avoid cramming for finals last minute, relieves unnecessary stress, and will allow you to feel much more comfortable going into your final. Plan to study for shorter periods of time over a longer span, rather than how we usually study for a long amount of time in a few days. Don't try to overfill your brain with information, but give it bite-sized pieces each day that you can actually remember!
Listen to music
Music can help you focus, improve your mood and motivation, and reduce anxiety. However, it must be the right kind of music. A song with a lot of words, a really fast tempo, and is too loud does more harm than good, it and tends to distract from studying rather than increase focus. Of course, it is different for everyone, but the best music is slow, instrumental music. That is why so many recommend classical music when studying. The most important factor, though, is listening to music that improves your mood! People who are in a positive mood while studying have a better outlook on work and persist at challenging tasks.
Study with friends
Similar to listening to music while you study, studying with friends improves mood and motivation while reducing anxiety. Studying with friends is most effective when you are surrounded by those who are just as motivated and focused on studying. Otherwise, you'll be unproductive and studying will become ineffective. Studying with others makes you more accountable, encourages new study habits, and can help aid learning retention as you are more positive and in a good mood. Try teaching those you study with! When you teach others about the content that you are studying, it becomes more memorable and sticks in your mind.
Remove social media
Perhaps the best thing to do in the weeks leading up to finals is to take a break from social media. Not only to help you focus but for the benefit of your mental health! We have all been in online classes before and have had the temptation to pick up our phones to scroll through Instagram, it's second nature to us! Taking a break from social media is sometimes difficult, but truly effective when you want to point your focus elsewhere and reduce distraction. When we remove social media, we also eliminate our 'FOMO' (fear of missing out) on things we would rather do than studying, it increases self-assurance, and helps you sleep! SCL health says, "The light from our devices, particularly the blue hue that is common, is disruptive to sleep in itself. And one study found that young adults who check social media more frequently and for more time, have greater sleep disturbances." Another option is to put a time limit on social media usage if you don't want to remove the app altogether.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Ask for help! Friends, professors, TA's, family, whoever it is, reach out! Whether it is for a break, study help, emotional support, don't forget to connect with others and interact with other people during this stressful/crazy time. If needful, please contact our very own BYU CAPS center for mental health resources and counseling. Here is their page with helpful podcasts and TED Talks specifically about mental health if you'd rather listen to those. Explore their page as there are so many online resources that provide immediate help for those in distress.
Good luck students! Whether or not you use these tips and strategies, we will get through this time together. Check out our finals blog post from last semester by clicking here.