Tips + tricks for staying sane during finals week


Photo credit: Ren Rader

Take a second to catch your breath. You’ve endured a lot in 2020, and now you’ve made it to the end of this weird, emotionally draining semester. Look at you go!

The only thing standing between you and the 101quarantine hobbies you’ve already forgotten about by now is finals season. Staying in touch with yourself and your personal needs is critical to get through this particularly difficult finals season.

When was the last time you had a real meal? Have you had enough water today? Did you get enough sleep to be able to focus on work later? While everyone deals and copes with stress differently, here are some words of wisdom shared by students, staff, and faculty about self-care during finals season. Take what you need!

From students:

“Have a dance break (extra points if it’s to the Hip Hop Harry dance circle music),” said Adeline Baumbach, sophomore.

“I recommend everyone to wake up everyday and play your favorite music (mine’s reggaetón – Bad Bunny), clean your room/dorm, and make your bed so that you have a really fun and positive start to your day,” said Thomás Peña, junior.

“Yoga, painting, meditating, taking care of our plants, and petting Fern the Trinicat!” said Claire Carlson, senior.

“Yoga with Adrienne! I love love love her, it’s totally free, hundreds of different videos for different emotions/occasions (to deal with stress, sleep, to wake up, etc). She’s helped me through the toughest times of the last 3 years, and is a warm, comforting, funny, uplifting presence. I can’t recommend her enough! Done wonders for my mental health and yoga practice.” said Natalee Weis, junior.

From faculty & staff:

Dr. Dania Abreu-Torres, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literature

  1. Play comforting music in the background. If you like a song, stop and dance or sing out loud.
  2. Work very hard during the week (use a planner!), then take the weekend off. If needed, work a bit on Sunday afternoon.
  3. When on break, enjoy every minute to the fullest. The work will get done when you are back at it.


Elseke Membreño-Zenteno, Center for International Engagement

  1. I take a walk every day with my dog while listening to either a podcast or an audio-book. Sometimes I even take two; one at the start of the day and one at the end.
  2. I always have a “easy read” book, usually a novel, on my bedside table.
  3. … and I take deep breaths! Work, homework, classes, tests, are not going anywhere, so if you need to step away, do so!

Dr. Rocio Delgado, Associate Professor of Education

One of the things I do every once in a while is to set limits for the amount of work that you do in a day. Lately, I’ve been trying to get off the screen by 8 pm no matter what. Set timers to balance the amount of work, 10 minute rest, then work some more.

Y no ver muchas noticias. I have the habit of reading the New York Times that I get in my inbox at the beginning of the day, then listen to the news again on the radio on my way to work, and that’s it.

I also try to go to bed early (or at least at the same time every night) and get up early when there’s peace and quiet around the house to enjoy some ‘me’ time. I think setting up routines and sticking to them helps.

Courtney Balderas, Director for Student Diversity and Inclusion

Intentionally create time and space for yourself to decompress mentally no matter how stressed or pressed you are for time. In order to center myself, I walk away from my work space, typical study space, or the computer and move somewhere outside or at least by a window. I then intentionally “turn off” the noise by focusing my mind first on something happy and slowly let that slip into a calming meditation of silence (mental silence). Do this again for as long as needed. I end with a practice in gratitude and reflection on carefree times when I did not feel strained and remain mindful of keeping focused on a positive mental stream.

Dr. Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, Professor of Modern Languages and Literature

I strongly recommend that you carefully read every class syllabus and make a plan. You should also meet with your professors, tutors, and/or the TLC [Tiger Learning Commons] to make sure you’re prepared.

There is a big temptation to sleep little, eat “comfort foods,” and have some “energy drinks” to get you through, but try to avoid these actions; do the opposite. Try to sleep about 7 hours, eat at least a salad a day, and avoid sugary beverages. If you’re privileged enough to be healthy and young, your body is usually resilient and tends to help you recover quickly, but try to not abuse it.

During finals, and always, be kind and gentle to yourself and others. Rest, hydrate, surround yourself with a supportive community, and ask for help. Wear your masks properly and tightly at all times and everywhere. We’re almost there, dear Tigers! Buena suerte/Good luck!