The holiday season is upon us, with the lights, parties, carols and celebrations. But if you’re a college student, there’s one thing standing between you and holiday magic: finals.

The end of the semester can be one of the most stressful parts of the year. There are finals to study for, exams to pass and papers to finish.

So how do you keep your sanity and finish the semester strong? Here are some tips for making your finals season a success.

Make a Plan, and Stick to It

Looking at all the work you need to get done can be overwhelming.  Build a schedule, create a checklist, create smaller goals and develop a plan that works for you. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, then stick to your strategy. If you focus on just one small goal at a time, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.

Get Some Sleep

Finals have become synonymous with all-nighters and over-caffeinating. Not only are those habits not good for your health, they can actually impact your grades. When you’re building your schedule, make sure you factor in a good night’s sleep. Several studies show that sleeping shortly after studying actually makes you more likely to recall what you learned.

Cut Out the Junk

With looming deadlines, a heavy workload and rising stress levels, lots of college students turn to comfort food or quick bites to fuel their late-night study sessions. But the short-term gratification of the fast-food dollar menu will actually make you feel worse in the long run. 

Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand so when the urge to eat strikes, you reach for them instead of the junk food. Veggies, nuts and fruit are all good options. Eating three healthy meals can also reduce the urge to snack on those delicious-but-bad-for-you foods. 

Incentivize Yourself

You know yourself best, so think about what will motivate you to stick to your plan. Maybe it’s rewarding yourself with an episode of your favorite show or a snack once you check something off your list.

Also think about creating an environment that makes you want to study. Do you learn better studying with a group of friends or listening to your favorite album? If you don’t like the studying environment you’ve created for yourself, you’re much less likely to want to spend time there. 

Take Breaks

Nonstop cramming is actually detrimental to long-term memory. Short, intense study sessions followed by a quick break is often the best way to prepare yourself to ace that test.

Take a walk outside in the cool, fresh air to clear your head. Sneak in a catnap. Spend a few minutes chatting with a friend. You can even switch to studying a different subject for a change of pace.

Hopefully these tips help you feel more confident this finals season. Stay calm, stay focused, and you can tackle this challenge and move on to celebrating the holidays!

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