How To Avoid Stress During Finals Week & Prevent It From Straining Your Relationship
It may be difficult to avoid stress during finals week altogether, but with the right strategies, you should be able to effectively cope with the pressure. If you're worried about handling finals week stress without it taking a toll on your romantic relationship, you're not alone. Balancing college courses and a significant other isn't always easy, especially before and during periods like finals week when your workload is at an all-time high. You might find yourself accidentally lashing out at your partner because you're overwhelmed with schoolwork, or maybe you're struggling to prioritize your S.O. amid your studies.
No matter how your stress is manifesting itself, navigating college finals doesn't have to negatively affect your relationship. I spoke to Pricilla Martinez, a coach with Blush Online Life Coaching, about her tried-and-true strategies for managing stress during finals week — and stopping it from putting a strain on your relationship with your partner. Luckily, finals week doesn't last forever. You only have to make it through a few cram sessions and exams. Soon enough it will be summer and you'll forget all about it. Plus, if you can learn to utilize these five coping mechanisms during times of stress, your relationship will be that much stronger.
Self-care is always important, but it's even more vital when you know you're going to be under more pressure than usual. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right. "During high stress times, we tend to reach for the sugar and caffeine, which in turn throws us into a vicious cycle of highs and lows," says Martinez. To maintain a steady level of energy during finals, she suggests sticking to your normal sleep schedule and diet.
Keep A Calendar
Your calendar is going to be your best friend during finals. Whether you have a planner, a whiteboard calendar, or you prefer to track your schedule on your phone, you should be writing down everything you need to get done during the week. This extends beyond studying — you don't want to forget about basic things like chores, errands, appointments, and yes, seeing your SO. To keep your routine relatively normal, Martinez suggests working your study schedule around these daily or weekly activities. "It’s important to still make time for the things that you need in order to feel human. Figure out what those things are and put them on the schedule along with your cram sessions," she says.
Study In A Way That Works For You
"Know what setting helps you be the most productive. Figure out what keeps you focused and stick with it," says Martinez. If you are able to study along with your S.O., then great! But if you know that they're going to be more of a distraction than a source of motivation, you may need to study separately — even if it's not as much fun.
For this girl, her boyfriend's presence served as a reminder not to slack off.
When I was a college student dating my boyfriend who had already graduated, I used to sign him into the library so he could sit with me while I studied. He brought a book and some snacks and just chilled with me. It was a sweet way to feel like we were spending time with each other, even when I had to be focused on prepping for finals. That said, I remember my most studious friend being really horrified that I would even make an effort to see my boyfriend during finals week. She was like, 'You need to study by yourself! He's a distraction!' But honestly, having him there sitting next to me did not really distract me from my work. Every person has a different studying style, and that's fine. I actually felt like I studied more because I didn't want to look like I was slacking off in front of him.
— Hannah, 24
Let Your Partner Know They Are Still A Priority
Especially during stressful times, you should set aside small periods to be with your significant other. This is vital to your relationship as well as your mental health. "People want to know that you prioritize them enough to make the accommodations necessary to include them in the time that you do have," says Martinez. She explains that making time for "activities that keep you connected will do wonders for your stress and their ego." Not only are you sending the message that they are important enough for you to drop everything (even if it's only for an hour), but you are letting them know that they are a source of comfort for you during high-pressure times. "Chances are they will be eager to continue comforting you," she adds.
This girl asks her boyfriend to send morale-boosting texts during finals week.
I give my boyfriend a heads up so he knows I won’t be as reachable. I’ll tell him, 'Hey, this week is going to be busy with school so I'm not going to be able to talk to you a lot.' I also ask for motivational, morale-boosting texts throughout the week.
— Drew, 22
Take A Timeout If You Need To
If you find yourself lashing out at your partner, Martinez suggests taking a timeout. "Give yourself some time to cool down and regain your composure," she says. Before you leave, though, don't forget to communicate with your partner about what you're doing. "You do not want to send the message that you are walking away from them or being passive-aggressive," she says. Calmly let them know that you need some space.
During your timeout, you should engage in an activity that helps you to center yourself. Figure out what works best for you, whether it's meditation, exercise, a hot shower, or something else. Once you feel ready to return to the situation, talk to your partner and be sure to apologize if you said or did anything that might have been hurtful.
When you're feeling especially stressed out about finals, remind yourself that this is only temporary. Take a deep breath, implement these strategies, and try to look forward to the (very near) future. Tell yourself that in no time at all, you will have far fewer reasons to feel anxious — and far more time to spend with the people that you love.