Ways to Prioritize Self Care During Finals

Let’s have a chat. This semester, I’ve been struggling with self-sabotage. Basically, I’ve created conditions for myself that are less than ideal when I had plenty of other options to make things much easier. What causes this behavior? In reality, I think that the biggest reason I participate in this destructive behavior is that it is normalized. Every college student jokes about being sleep-deprived, ridiculously caffeinated, and feeling like the failure is just a test away.

I’m tired of participating in this toxic behavior. I’ve joked frequently about “dead week” and feeling overwhelmed and tired and anxious and stressed. I think the worst thing about the entire ordeal is that when we overcome the odds and end up nailing the semester when at first it seemed bleak, we feel accomplished. I personally feel that all the sleep loss and wasted time was worth it in the end. It most definitely doesn’t need to be like this and there are simple ways of stopping this toxic cycle of self-sabotage. Today, I want to talk about five ways that I have been trying to improve my behavior surrounding final exams and any other testing situations during the term.

A big part of ending the urge to self-sabotage comes from having a good self-care system. That takes the shape of eating healthy, taking useful breaks, and managing your time effectively. There is a healthier sense of accomplishment that you can take away from these behaviors. Here’s a list of some you can start implementing now!


Take breaks and do something relaxing, calming, or genuinely interesting to you.

Hannah said it best in her tweet today.


It’s very important to take time for yourself, and you definitely have time during finals week to work on some fun breaks. For example, I’ve been taking breaks to write Blogmas posts. For an hour or two every day, I work on content creation, making featured images, and coming up with more ideas. I also love running errands and doing laundry and cleaning! It feels so nice to come back to a clean space after a long day of studying. For a more fun approach, I love going to Target!

Stop calculating your grades.

I quite literally just did this and realized how harmful it was to my productivity and mental well being. We are taught since 9th grade that our grades and GPA are the only things that really matter when it comes to academics. However, I’ve gotten more out of classes that I was genuinely interested in the content material and may have scored empirically lower than other classes that I got easy A’s in. I’m not going to tell you not to care about your GPA because in our society and depending on your career path that may be a lot to ask. But, I do think it’s important to not keep playing into this idea and to stop using Excel for anything other than calculating random statistical values.

treat yourself.

I love to do this at the end of finals because it’s kind of a reward for working your butt off, but you can also implement these things throughout the week to help with anxiety. Think about some of the things that make you feel happy and excited about them. For me, I love planning to go to a good Zumba class or a trip to my favorite restaurant {currently tied for the Durham/Chapel Hill scene}.

I also love getting my nails done. Also, you can go for a run, have a photo shoot, garden, etc. These are all things that will release some endorphins which can be energizing and will put you in a great mood to keep on grinding towards your goals.

This is not the time to make any major life changes.

Whether or not you got a B- or B on your Math 130 final doesn’t determine whether or not you want to stay on track to be a doctor, you have plenty of time between your finals and the start of the next semester to change your major or career goals. Weighing down your finals week with the important discussion and decisions that ought to be made before changing plans is just a bad idea. Keep your mental health in mind and try and focus on the present.

I always try and remember the quote. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” At the present moment, you need to remember what your focus should be and accept what you can’t directly respond to at the moment. That doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you focused and clear-headed.

Prioritize your needs first.

I have this quirky thing about me that a lot of people make fun of me for. Some of my backgrounds are self-portraits of me. I don’t always have it this way. I haven’t been feeling 100% myself for a while now, so I chose to place happy pictures of myself in places that pop up around me frequently. These pictures remind me that it’s okay to be selfish and figure out what your personal needs are. I don’t always have pictures of me on my lock screen.

It reminds me that the difficult times that I’m facing whether big or small will pass. The things that I choose to remember have no connection to exams or school or Carolina or even others’ perception of me. They are simply pictures that I feel represent me: happiness, great style [lol], bright colors, etc. That’s pretty darn special. Celebrate you every once and a while. Do what you gotta do to make yourself feel worthy because you are! The best person to convince you of that is you.


Self-care is such an important topic to think about during finals season. I can’t tell you how many people get wrapped up in the stress of exams and make them so much more important than they are. Sure, you need a great GPA to be competitive. But, one class won’t destroy your chances and one test doesn’t determine your worth. You have to keep grinding and trying. Just remember, you are worth it. You are going to kill that exam and if not, they sell ice cream right down the street at Harris Teeter.

keep on keepin’ on,