Deep breaths. You’re probably trying to debate on whether it is anxiety causing your heart to flutter or if you may be suffering from a heart attack. It’s okay, I was there just yesterday whilst attempting my computer final.
You, just like many others, are just experiencing the anxiety that comes with the dreaded finals week of college. Just last night I found myself choosing to lock myself in a bathroom after multiple failed attempts at an integrated project that required me to know more about Microsoft Access than I did, but there are ways to make things easier. Tips!
First of all, do as I say not as I do when I say don’t procrastinate. Start earlier, whether it is studying, writing those papers, doing research, etc. When you are chronically ill, you never know when there may be a day you can’t do something, so give yourself extra time. Do not wait until the weekend before to write the four essays you have due on Monday and choose to write a blog post instead, says the blogger writing blog posts instead of her 10 page English final.
Secondly, while most students flock to coffee and energy drinks for their finals, try juices or Gatorade/Powerade instead. I know for me that after less than half of an energy drink my heart flutters more than a flock of butterfly. Gatorade can perk me up and give me the energy I need to stay focused and hydrated without the nasty side effects that energy drinks tend to have on the chronically ill.
Third, do you work better by yourself or with other people quizzing you? Knowing which ways you learn better can help you set up a better study system. For me, I know it helps to have my grandmother or friend ask me questions or read the definitions and me guess. The verbal recitation of things helps me. Some people do better writing things over and over until they remember. Knowing your learning type can help with this a lot, and it will save you lots of spoons mentally if you are not wasting mental energy trying to force yourself to learn a way that you are not made to!
Fourth, take breaks when you need. I get overwhelmed easily when things don’t come as naturally to me as other things do. So rather than getting upset and flustered and maybe tossing your computer out a window, because it’s oh so tempting sometimes, just take a breather. Go get some food, rehydrate, take a bubble bath, paint your nails, read a book you enjoy, or watch a few (I repeat, a few) episodes of your favorite show. Once you have calmed down and can refocus, then you can get back to work and more easily solve problems.
Fifth, stay well rested! You will not be able to study or take a final on only a few hours of sleep. While a healthy person may be able to strain their body that way, you are putting yours at much higher risk. If you have a sleep schedule, stick to it. If you don’t, try to arrange one (I know it can be very hard) to allow yourself the right amount of sleep!
Sixth, stay nourished. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even if that meal is Ensure or formula through a tube or TPN, keeping your electrolytes in order can lessen your amount of brain fog and help you focus better while testing.
Seventh, do NOT forget your medication. I know you may be focused on school and not be thinking, but remember your health is more important. So remember to take your meds!
Eighth, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors. Their job is to teach you and help you. If you happen to get stuck with that one professor who hates children and probably shouldn’t be a professor anyway, talk to your classmates, chances are they are struggling too and may be able to help you even just by explaining something online. This step can be tricky with social anxiety, but you may be relieved to find out that others were just as confused as you. College is basically just one big bowl of confused kids trying to adult.
Ninth, create a reward system. When you finish your chapter you had to read, reward yourself with something small. When you complete the whole book, give yourself a bigger reward. Same with writing a paper or studying, it can help to reward yourself and give yourself some incentive to keep going. Even if that reward is a nap.
Tenth, know that no matter what happens, you have tried your best and are still deserving of love and affection. Your grade does not determine your worth. Yes, it does hurt to fail, but you can retake the class the next semester (Even I had to do it). And know that even if you fail, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a come back next semester.
Just relax, deep breaths. It is all gonna be okay. Finals suck. They do. It is hard to retain everything you learned over 18 some weeks and regurgitate it onto a paper. Take your time and remember to keep your health in check. Finals won’t matter if you end up in the emergency room instead. If you get overwhelmed, find support groups you can talk to and explain your concerns, they may have some good advice as well. Sometimes even your teacher can be helpful and offer good advice. You got this! Just do your best and try not to over think it or stress too much. It will all be okay, no matter how cliche that sounds.