How to manage anxiety around finals?

This post answers: How to manage anxiety around finals? What are the reasons to experience anxiety around finals? What is Anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? What are the causes of anxiety? What are some ways to manage anxiety? What are the therapy options for anxiety?

How to manage anxiety around finals?

Some ways to manage anxiety around finals are:

Prioritize based on strengths and weaknesses

Students must prioritize their various subjects coming for the finalists based on their strengths and weaknesses in the following papers. 

Many students have a set study routine that they follow before their exams, some students might begin with preparing for papers that they are already confident in while others begin with papers that they dislike or lack expertise in.

However, students must take mindful decisions and prioritize those papers that need more attention and time before their finals to avoid anxiety and stress as the dates come nearer.

Spend time planning

Many students experience a sense of anxiety and stress around their finals due to a lack of proper planning and organization. Planning and organization during finals might involve making a study schedule with intervals of break.

Here students can also list down the areas that require more time and attention and those areas that they are confident of and are less anxiety-provoking. Once students have their study schedule ready it becomes easier for them to follow and maintain the pace.

Planning a study schedule can also act as a motivation for individuals to get through challenging times.

Seek help

Giving exams is very stressful for many students and greatly contributes to mental exhaustion. However, during such times, students can actively seek help from their friends or even parents who have the required expertise and knowledge in a given subject or field.

Seeking help from those who are going through the same experiences can be significantly beneficial to reduce one’s anxiety and nervousness around their finals and help them progress in their path to excellence.

Take breaks

Finals can be stressful but at the same time, students must realize that some amount of break from study time is necessary for individuals to cut out the monotony and also clear their heads. Many research indicates that taking planned breaks and carrying out activities that helped lighten an individual’s mood significantly improve concentration and productivity.

Listen to music

Music has had a therapeutic effect on many individuals in various stressful situations. It can be used during exam times as well which helps students lighten their mood and provide a soothing effect such that they can bounce back to their books more readily and concentrate optimally.


When finals are around the corner students try to pull off all-nighters where they spend all night studying without sufficient sleep. Many research indicates that there is a direct relationship between lack of sleep and mental instabilities like anxiety and depression.

Hence students must get a sufficient amount of sleep of about 6 to 8 hours daily to function productively. Apart from getting sufficient sleep students must also focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise which will help to regulate their mood and also improve attention and concentration which are required to get relief from stress due to the finals.

What are the reasons to experience anxiety around finals?

Some reasons to experience anxiety around finals are:

  • Decreased self-confidence
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of planning
  • High levels of competition
  • Parental expectations
  • A need to be on the top
  • Fear of not being able to accomplish one’s goals
  • Environmental distractions
  • Past negative experiences

  What is Anxiety?

Problems and resulting stress are usually accompanied by some common emotions like confusion, feeling at the edge, a sense of helplessness, and recurrent negative thoughts which can collectively be seen as an individual experiencing what’s commonly called  Anxiety. 

Every human has their unique ways of dealing with these difficult situations and the following emotions, some try to adapt to the circumstances and find the best and most comfortable solution while others try to find an escape route for the same, in both cases the main aim is usually to get over the uncomfortable emotions of anxiety. 

What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? 

Anxiety is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms such as:


  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Complaints of chest pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control over oneself and their environment
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Increased heart rate

These symptoms vary in severity from person to person. However, it is noted that many people experience anxiety attacks that are not significantly displayed.

What are the causes of anxiety?

Anxiety often results from accumulated stress or overwhelming feelings. Some common causes of anxiety include.

  • Increased and challenging situations and demands in day-to-day life.
  • Major changes in family dynamics such as marriage, divorce, death of a loved one.
  • Strain interpersonal relationships
  • Intrapersonal conflicts
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms
  • Comorbid conditions both physical and mental
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Genetic factors
  • Changes in the brain region
  • Overdose of caffeine
  • Prolonged use of medications
  • Significant traumatic experiences in the past or recent times
  • Comorbid mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder or any other phobias.

What are some ways to manage anxiety?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques


Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.



A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy


It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.


Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time


All students across the world experience a sense of stress and anxiety when their exams are near. This helps to understand the natural response students show of stress and anxiety when they have their finals around the corner.

However, when some students experience high levels of anxiety that limit their ability to prepare optimally for their finals they must seek support from their friends, family, or even professionals so that they can perform their best.

Frequently asked questions: How to manage anxiety around finals?

Can finals cause anxiety?

According to the survey from Jed foundation COVID-19 has a negative impact on the emotional health of about 63% of college students causing them anxiety and trouble concentrating.

Are final exams effective?

Many studies indicate that finals are less effective than project-based learning.

Why are college finals so stressful?

Finals can be stressful for individuals due to lack of sufficient coping techniques and increased pressure externally and internally.

Is test anxiety a real thing?

Test anxiety is real and is experienced by many it is a type of performance anxiety where one’s performance has a significant impact.