The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Navigating the Storm: Strategies to Tackle Finals Week Stress

Brandon Nelson

As the semester winds down, students find themselves at the threshold of one of academia’s most challenging rituals: finals week. For many, the pressure to perform well in exams, complete projects, and wrap up assignments can feel overwhelming. 

Jonathan Vargas, a 22-year-old engineering major at Diablo Valley College, articulated the challenges he faces juggling his workload for finals.

“It’s been hard to even get sleep while struggling to keep up with all my assignments and carving out the time to study for exams,” Vargas said. 

His statement reflects the stress a lot of students experience in the final weeks of the semester as they find themselves buried under a mountain of commitments.

To help reduce — and organize — some of that chaos, Ehsan Adib Shabahang, a licensed professional counselor with TimelyMD, has partnered with DVC to offer students insights in the art of stress management.

One way to manage stress, Shabahang said, is by “giving ourselves a mental rest.”

“A lot of times, we think we have to continue studying and keeping our brains active,” said Shabahang, “and sometimes we forget how important it is to take one step at a time.” 


Create a schedule

Shabahang’s words served as a gentle reminder that it’s possible to navigate the storm of finals stress and emerge on the other side with a strong academic performance — and your mental well being — intact. 

For one, he suggested, it’s important to begin by creating a realistic schedule. Start by drafting a detailed study schedule that covers all your subjects. Then prioritize your subjects based on exam dates and the amount of material you need to cover.

It’s important to break down those study sessions into manageable chunks, with short breaks in between to avoid burnout, he added.


Get comfortable

Second, identify a study environment that works best for you. Whether it’s a quiet corner in the library or a coffee shop with a steady hum of background noise, find the setting that enhances your focus.

The key here is to minimize distractions and create a comfortable space that aids your concentration.


Active learning

Third, make sure to utilize active learning techniques. You can engage in active learning by summarizing information in your own words, teaching concepts to a study partner, or creating flashcards.

Actively participating in the learning process not only enhances understanding but also makes studying more dynamic and less monotonous.


Remember to rest

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking frequent breaks is a crucial component of effective studying.“Mental reset is very important,” Shabahang stressed.

This means developing the routine of taking short breaks during study sessions to stretch or practice mindfulness, which can help recharge your focus and alleviate stress. Use the time to step outside, grab a healthy snack, or engage in activities you enjoy that refresh your mind.


Remember to breathe

Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can be powerful tools for stress reduction.

“In order to give ourselves the motivation and the support and energy, giving ourselves time to practice mindfulness and grounding techniques remind ourselves of our progress,” Shabahang added. 

When the pressure is high, take a few moments to center yourself. Mindfulness not only reduces stress but also improves cognitive function and enhances your ability to retain information.


Seek help from others 

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Whether it’s forming a study group, seeking clarification from professors, or talking to friends and family about your stress, knowing that you’re not alone in facing the challenges of finals week can provide valuable emotional support.

Counselors like Shabahang are available to DVC students via Timely MD, a free service that provides 24/7 access to medical and mental telehealth care.


Finals week is a challenge, but it’s important to remember that it’s a temporary one. By implementing these strategies and maintaining a balanced approach to studying and self-care, you’ll have a better shot to  navigate the stress with resilience and success.

If you put in the work and pay attention to your needs, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle whatever finals week throws your way.

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About the Contributors
Yaritza Garcia, Staff Writer
Brandon Nelson, Deputy News Editor

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