Dead week survival guide

Valerie Teegardin
Valerie Teegardin

There are several steps to take to keep yourself alive during dead week.

I could drown myself in the amount of crappy study tips I’ve read, so I’ve decided to do us all a favor and compile the best tips that I’ve tested out and been successful with.

1) Exam time isn’t charity time

A study group is only beneficial if everyone has equal knowledge of the material. If there are members in your group you haven’t even seen in class before, you are going to get weighed down. It would be better off studying solo.

If you’re that slacker who’s been M.I.A all semester, don’t be a jerk by cajoling your classmates into playing professor because you participated in Occupy Your Couch instead of going to class.

2) Eat breakfast…at midnight

I’m going to put this very bluntly: Red Bull does not give you wings. What it does give you is spiked blood pressure and shaky hands. The same goes for those Starbucks mochas.

Pounding down espresso shots isn’t worth the inevitable crash and burn after the caffeine high wears off. Instead, opt for eating food that’s high in protein and complex carbs. They give you the same energized feeling, minus the ugly side effects.

Although I don’t recommend it, I realize that you might have some late nights or have to pull an all-nighter during dead week. This is a crucial time to choose healthy ways to stay amped up. Cook a fast breakfast that will power you through the rest of the night. And hey, who doesn’t like pancakes at one in the morning?web_help

3) Mark your territory

Just because hordes of students are flocking to Meriam Library doesn’t mean you should. Research shows your studying is maximized in an environment similar to a classroom setting, so why not study in one instead?

Thanks to an empty room at Butte Hall the other night, I found some motivation and showed my homework who’s boss — a feat I would have never achieved had I been someplace else. The secret to optimizing your ability to concentrate and retain information is to find a room that’s quiet but not dead silent.

4) Interval training trumps marathon studying

Avoid brain burnout by studying in multiple bursts with breaks in-between rather than long, drawn out periods. But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should study for 15 minutes and then take a two- hour break to play Assassin’s Creed.

The best thing to do is 45 minutes on, 10 minutes off. This effective method gives your brain just enough time to warm up and hit a nice study stride before it gets too strained. The short recovery breaks allow you adequate time to refuel.

5) Twitter and Facebook will save your sanity

You’ve probably noticed your friends and followers have been blowing up your news feed with farewell statuses as they deactivate their accounts until after finals.

Let’s skip the bull and be honest with ourselves: as soon as we prevent ourselves from doing the things we desire, we want to do them even more. At the start of dead week last year, I deactivated my Facebook profile thinking that it’d force me to focus. But in reality, the curiosity of what I was missing out on consumed my thoughts more than it did while it was activated. Fail.

6) Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Your mind is one powerful beast. Even subconscious thoughts trigger a response in your brain which decides how you  react.

That’s why we need to tame our brains if we want to make it through dead week and finals in one piece.

The next time you catch yourself thinking about how stressed you are, pause and add the word “feeling” at the end of that thought. By doing so, your mind will automatically react more positively towards the situation.

If you change the way you think, your stress level will decrease. How’s that for mind-blowing?


Valerie Teegardin can be reached at [email protected] or @vteegardin on Twitter.

Illustration by Liz Coffee.