Wake up, study. . . study. . . more studying. . . crying. . . and if one is lucky enough, a little bit of sleep, then wake up, repeat. This is a common schedule for the typical student preparing for final exams.

All over the country, finals week is coming up, whether students are prepared for it or not. Instead of stressing out and shutting down, students can take some easy steps to lighten the weight that finals (and their backpacks) are putting on them.
“Remember to give yourself healthy breaks during studying for finals, as it can easily become overwhelming quickly. I’ve found going on a short walk outside, breathing fresh air, or even playing on my phone every hour or so is good for my brain,” said Alexas Brown, UCC dental assisting student.

Common unhealthy responses to stress include anger, negativity and increased smoking, according to the Mayo Clinic article “Stress management: Examine your stress reaction.” The campus has a plan to help students with this type of stress during finals week by providing drinks, snacks, massages and tutors to help students feel confident and successful.

In fact, animals from Saving Grace Pet Adoption will be on campus Monday and Tuesday of finals week (March 19 and 20) in Jackson Hall room 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can play and interact with dogs and other animals from Saving Grace Pet Adoption and perhaps meet their new best friend.

Reward systems can be another great motivational tool for studying. “Some advice that I can give to other students is don’t beat yourself up over not understanding a concept! Just take a break and grab some ice cream because that always makes things better. Just make sure to come back and try again,” said Brittany Brown, nursing student.

Rewards can help students improve their test scores, while associating studying with a good experience, Ganit Richter, Daphne R. Raban and Sheizaf Rafaeli, authors of Studying Gamification: “The Effect of Rewards and Incentives on Motivation,” report.

Students can find several quiet places to study and focus on their work around campus. The Resiliency Room in Educational Skills Building 9 has a quiet atmosphere which can help students focus and decompress with a living room setting. The computer labs around campus are often underutilized, especially in the afternoons. The Laverne Murphy Student Center has comfortable couches and is located directly next to the cafeteria if students need snacks.

According to, “How to Eat Right to Reduce Stress,” from the Physicians Committee for responsible medicine, a healthy diet can reduce stress. Healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables can build up the immune system and lower blood pressure. Complex carbs, like whole grain oats, cereal, even oatmeal are good for stabilizing blood sugar levels and release a feel-good brain chemical called serotonin.

As tempting as it may seem, it is a good idea to steer away from sugary beverages and energy drinks. The sugar may seem like a quick-fix for an immediate stress reliever but the consequences are long term. Animal studies showed that high sugar diets can also disrupt sleep. According to an article in the Journal of Translational Medicine, the gut microbiome of animals fed a high-fat or high-sugar diet is more prone to circadian rhythm disruption or poor sleep.

According to an article “Sugar, Physical Stress, and Psychological Stress,” sugar is also bad for the brain: “The problem is that in the long term (or even the medium term, really), chronically high sugar intake causes physical stress to your brain. In particular, it messes with the hippocampus. The hippocampus is an area of the brain that controls memory, especially spatial memory.”

Of course, a good diet is not going to replace studying. “Definitely study no matter the class, you never know what’s on the test,” said Jessica Young, UCC Freshman.