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With finals season just around the corner, testing anxiety is bound to rise as students are flooded with dozens of projects, papers, and exams. In the face of these stressful times, here are five unique mental health and study tips to ease your anxiety.

VOX 5: Guide to Surviving Finals!

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Whether it be the added stress of transition back into an in-person academic environment or the strain of college admissions approaching, testing anxiety has been a persistent problem among high school students. 

When faced with excessive pressure to perform academically, several high schoolers begin having testing anxiety, which can cause panic attacks and distress among dozens of other physical and mental illnesses. With up to 20% of students suffering from high test anxiety and another 18% with moderate anxiety, the American Test Anxiety Association reported on the condition as “the most prevalent scholastic impairment of our schools today.” 

With finals season just around the corner, testing anxiety is bound to rise as students are flooded with dozens of projects, papers, and exams. When seeking advice on how to ease this anxiety, we are always told to be “more productive” so we can “get more sleep.” If you’re anything like me, these pieces of advice stress me out even more. Testing anxiety definitionally means that no matter how productive I am, no matter how much I study, I always feel underprepared. I always feel that I should do better. In the face of these stressful times, here are five unique mental health and study tips to ease your anxiety:  

1. Switch up your study location

Staying cooped up in the same place for too long can overwhelm your mind and body. Try switching up your study location to different places around your house and even public places. There are hundreds of libraries throughout Georgia, with an easy system set in place by the Georgia Public Library System to find the one closest to you. Most libraries offer a variety of work environments, ranging from private meeting rooms, hot spots with quiet music and whispering, or absolute silence. Still, if the library just doesn’t seem right for you, coffee shops are another great option! With quiet music and the smell of ground coffee in the background, coffee shops provide the perfect ambiance for studying. Moreover, their tempting coffee & baked items ensure you don’t forget to eat during these stressful times! 

2. Study with friends

Constantly hammered with GPAs, class ranks, and college applications, it’s quite easy for academic environments to turn toxic and competitive. However, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together. Collaborating with just one other friend to navigate through finals seasons can work wonders. Work with your peers to create study materials together, using resources such as Quizlet and Evernote that can be easily edited and shared. Academically, not only does this significantly cut down your study time, but it also provides an extra set of eyes to make sure there’s no missing or incorrect information. Socially, having a friend to take 3 a.m. coffee breaks with you can lighten up the mood. After all, as the age-old saying goes, “two minds are better than one.” 

3. Reward yourself 

Flipping through three hundred pages of AP Biology the night before your exam is bound to clog up your mind and put you to sleep. Keep yourself motivated through quick but effective rewards. Watching funny YouTube videos is the perfect incentive for me. After every chapter of biology completed, I’ll take a three-minute break to watch cute panda videos or funny “Grey’s Anatomy” moments. This incentive system keeps you surprisingly awake and energized while learning about the stages of evolution at midnight, improving both your academic retention and mental health. The key lies in making sure you actually stop at three minutes! 

4. Minimize “Stress Bragging” 

At our school, students will battle over who got less sleep last night. “You went to bed at 2:30 am? Well, guess what? I was studying until 4 am. Beat that!” Maybe not as explicitly, but these conversations aren’t uncommon around high schoolers constantly trying to one-up each other. Once you start getting into these conversations, you’ll quickly convince yourself that being more stressed and overworked is good, that it means you’re smarter, better, and more motivated. The next day, you’ll find yourself depriving yourself of sleep and food to live up to the stereotype of the stressed, sleep-deprived high schooler. Stress bragging is one of the star characteristics of a toxic academic environment. 

Trust me, it is not worth getting into. What is there to be proud of about getting just two hours of sleep? It’s bad for your physical health, mental health, and emotional health. Your sleep schedule is your business, not your friends. If you find the time to study, sleep, and eat, that is amazing. That is something to be proud of. Even if you don’t find the time to study because you sleep and eat, that is also something to be proud of. 

5. Positive affirmations 

OK, so I know this sounds corny, but it works. We are endlessly caught up in hypothetical scenarios, “what if I run out of time,” “what if my calculator dies in the middle,” “what if I fail,” and worst of all, “what if I just can’t do it.” Now, like most people, I won’t tell you to imagine the worst-case scenario if you do fail because speaking from experience, that never ends well. Instead, just ask “what if I could?” If you still can’t believe it will happen, make a quick list of every concept you have mastered, every test you performed well on, and every assessment you finished in time and you will quickly realize that it really isn’t as bad as it seems. 

With that said, good luck to everyone in finals season. You’re an amazing person, regardless of what happens in the classroom.

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About Sonal Churiwal

/VOX ATL Teen Staff

Sonal Churiwal (she/her) is a senior at Northview High School. She hopes to uplift the voices of marginalized communities as a Vox writer and plans on pursuing a career in law...

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comments (1)

  1. sanjna desai

    Love this