How to Stay Sane During Exams (or Insanely Busy Times)

Hey hi hello! How are you all doing today? Monday off to a good start? I certainly hope so! It’s getting to the end of the semester and school year for me. I have only one exam and take home essay left to do! Almost there, the finish line is in sight!

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Exam periods tend to be pretty intense at my school. The library stays open 24/7 during the exam period. Everywhere I look I see stressed, haggard, and overly-caffeinated students. I can’t say that this has a calming effect on me…

When I went through my first exam period at my university, I started observing this type of study culture and I was overwhelmed. Hearing how my friends and acquantainces were staying up until all hours of the night and day and sitting in the library for hours made me worried that I wasn’t doing enough.

Fast forward to now…and yeah I’ve figured out what works for me during exams, or really any other incredibly busy/stressful time for me. Some of these things I’ve learned through family, others through watching friends, and of course tips from the good old Internet. So here are 5 things I do to stay sane during crazy times of life!

Prioritize sleep. Honestly I almost always am prioritizing sleep (sleep = my favorite). But I do it even more so during times when life is crazy. Because how are you supposed to face some of your most challenging days when you’re physically and mentally exhausted? I know and love many people who have pulled all-nighters studying for exams. But I have also heard of people who stay up all night studying only to fall asleep and miss their exam period, which is literally my worst nightmare. During crazy times, I make sure I’m getting 8 hours of sleep each night, preferably going to bed early and waking up early. It starts my day off right on a not already exhausted note, and I’m ready to conquer studying and exams!

Create a plan and stay organized. When I have 4-5 exams/papers to work on, I instantly get overwhelmed and kind of want to run away and pretend I have no responsibilities. Yeah, that doesn’t really work. Now, instead of freaking out over how much I have to do, I try to split studying and papers into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, for my biology exam, I’ll review concepts X, Y, and Z, and then do the practice questions for these concepts that are in the textbook. Or for a paper, for example: I’ll write the introduction and refine my thesis, outline the rest of the paper, and then take a break. Creating a rough schedule for what you want to get done and when you want to get it done helps me feel less overwhelmed, and it also lets you see that you’re making real progress!

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This planner honestly helps me keep my life together! 

Schedule in breaks. I’ll say it again, TAKE A BREAK!!! If you have a huge project or deadline for work, or a big exam, sometimes it seems like there is too much to do and too little time to do it, so pushing and working through seems like the only option. Nope, take a break. Even 10 minutes of walking outside, chatting on the phone with a friend, or grabbing a cup of coffee can make all the difference. Because think about it, how long can you actually concentrate? I’d say really focused concentration only occurs in 1.5 – 2 hour stints (at least for me). Any longer than that and I’m pretty sure my brain is begging for mercy. Taking breaks allows you to breathe, remember that it’s good to be alive, and to destress for a few moments. Also, when you go back to working, you’ll feel much more refreshed and not like you’re working through fatigue.

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Treat yourself. You are working so hard, so do something to reward yourself for your hard work! Grab lunch with a friend, order a cappuccino and sip it slowly, get a mani or pedi, watch a few episodes of that show you’ve been wanting to catch up on. Or anything else that makes you happy or that you try to save for a special occassion. And most importantly, don’t feel guilty about it. Often when you’re working hard, you feel like you shouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself, or if you are you’re doing something wrong. Nope, not true! You can enjoy your day and your life even during the busy seasons.

What do you do to stay sane during crazy times? Tips are always appreciated 🙂 

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