Op-Ed: As Finals Rapidly Approach, Self-Care is Key


Taking an exam. Photo purchased from BigStock.com.

As the end of the school year is nigh, exams are coming up and teachers are assigning final projects. This can be incredibly stressful for many students, especially while worrying about next year’s classes. 

In addition to the stress of classes, many students feel overwhelmed by outside commitments and school sports. At this time of the year, everyone is ready to finish school and enjoy summer, but we have to keep working. 

There have certainly been instances in the past couple of years when the stress has been too much for me. Last year when I was selecting my classes, I became incredibly overwhelmed and burnt out. 

I had decided that I wanted to join the Global Studies Diploma Program, and I also found out that I would be promoted to Senior Writer on the Gator in the fall, which I was incredibly psyched about. I decided that I wanted to enroll in a language concentration, which meant I would have to take two languages, adding another full-time academic course to my plate. 

The only problem was that this meant I would be taking seven full-time academic courses, leaving me only one other elective block. I realized I wouldn’t have the space in my schedule to get my art credits and my Global Studies credits, even while taking three electives. 

While I wanted to do everything, I knew that it was impossible. Just trying to decide which courses and concentration to choose was stressful enough, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to fill my schedule to the brim with two languages. 

While it may feel tempting to overwhelm yourself because it’ll look good for colleges, the anxiety that it causes isn’t worth it.

After much consideration, I decided to choose another Global Studies concentration, in order to make room for Journalism. I have very strong feelings towards writing, and although I would be limiting the languages I took, I didn’t want to give up on my love for Journalism. 

Forcing myself to choose between languages and Journalism helped me come to an undeniable conclusion: sometimes you can’t do everything and that’s okay. 

Yes, you can overwhelm your course load.  Too many classes, including APs, force you to work until 1:00 a.m. every night, and you’re not going to be able to produce your best quality of work—and you’re not going to be happy doing it. While it may feel tempting to “look good” for colleges, the anxiety that it causes isn’t worth it. 

Now I’m not saying to take a super light course load is good either. Challenge yourself. Take hard classes, as long as you enjoy them, but make sure the workload is manageable.

I’m currently taking three electives, two of which are academic, which is more than the usual amount, and sometimes the workload can get to be too much. 

In these moments, when I have seven assignments due in one night, the best thing to do is to think of my work like a checklist. Thinking about all seven assignments at once can be incredibly intimidating, so I just pretend that I have one assignment I need to do and don’t worry about the rest until after I’ve finished it. 

In addition, finding a good workspace is key. The school library can be a good place if you’re okay with other background noises, but sometimes I feel that I need to move to a quieter place in order to focus. 

Especially when I’m studying for finals, finding a good place to work is so important. My favorite places are public libraries and cafes. Although cafes can get noisy, since I don’t know anyone there, the noise just blends into the background of my mind. 

Don’t be shy to take a break from friends to get your work done, because while it might be more fun to stay and hang out with them, your future self will thank you for being productive. 

However, staying too focused on school can be harmful as well. At the beginning of the school year, I was so swamped with work from so many different classes, that I spent all my time focusing on school. And if I wasn’t at school, I was at a climbing team practice.

I found that I suddenly had no time for friends, and my social life had been rapidly plummeting. I found myself completely absorbed in my school life, and while I was getting good grades, I wasn’t taking care of myself. 

The key to managing everything is to find the study method that works for you.

I wasn’t sleeping well, and that lead me to feel unfocused in class. I was living off coffee and five hours of sleep most nights, and I was barely able to do all my homework. I decided I needed to make a change. 

I started going to bed earlier and waking up early to do work, which helped me be much more productive; my mind is also sharper when I first wake up versus after a long day. I decided to cut back on climbing and extravehiculars, and I made more time to see my friends. 

While I wasn’t changing that much about my life, the changes I made helped me immensely. The key to managing everything is to find the study method that works for you. 

Just because your friends stay up late doing work doesn’t mean that will work for you. Set aside blocks of time to be productive, but reward yourself after you complete an assignment with free time. 

After all, school is meant to teach you how to swim, not drown.