Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: 5 tips to reduce stress during dead week


The abominable snowman understands.


If those pesky taking-a-test-buck-naked nightmares haven’t begun already, they’re about to. Finals week is fast-approaching, so here are five tips on how to topple the beast that, according to my dad, will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life.

1. Horse Blinders for Humans™. Here’s a little arts and crafts project. Get two rolls of toilet paper (if you don’t have it on hand, ask a messy friend), one pipe cleaner, four strips of masking tape and one hairband. Perfect. These are all the materials needed to assemble a pair of hand-crafted Horse Blinders for Humans™. Now when you eat at Hunt Hall cafeteria and walk past Christmas programs playing on the T.V., you won’t break into tears realizing the overwhelming grief of being without your family and having lost your childhood. With Horse Blinders for Humans™ you can focus on that 10-page paper you have to finish and save the unimportant stuff for later.

2. Join The Tea Party. During this time, not coffee, but tea is your best friend. The high-intensity rush of caffeine to your brain via coffee might take you to the tip-top of productivity mountain, but I’ll be darned if I haven’t seen a good scholarly friend of mine come crashing down an hour later. To avoid tears, drink earl gray. It calms, won’t destroy your bowels and might even give you the vague feeling of being at a spa for older white women. But if you must cry, know that tears taste better in hot leaf water, not bean.

3. Break Up With Netflix. Uh, hey Netflix. **Punches shoulder** You old Net-net, you. Yeah. We need to talk. I know you’ve been there for me a lot. Like in October when I wanted to binge-watch “Stranger Things” and you said, “Go for it!” Well, I think with finals coming up, we just want different things. You want me to sit with you for hours and hours, snacking on cold refried beans in a can because I ran out of “real food” and “refuse to go grocery shopping.” I want to pass my classes and maybe buy milk. I don’t think we should see each other anymore, not during finals at least. Thanks for understanding. Yeah, yeah. I’ll give back your sweatshirt.

4. How to Fix A Leaky Brain. As any one of the professors at St. Edward’s will tell you, a brain is like a toilet. Sometimes when you use it too much, the pipes get loose. After memorizing 432 flashcards of French verbs, your brain will feel drained, even leaky. Luckily, fixing this is easy. Grab a small hunk of cheese and head for the library. I suggest cheese because if you’re at the point where you’re comparing your brain to a toilet, your blood sugar is probably low like mine is as I write this. Using the library printers, get three 8” by 11” black and white portraits of your three heroes. (My heroes? Easy. Sherman Alexie, Maya Angelou and Cardi B). Pin them up on a wall of your choosing at about eye level. Then, imagine your heroes saying these words: “Get back to studying.”

5. It’s Okay to Say No Way. As painful as finals is, this is the one time in your life when you have a legitimate get out of jail free card. Use it. If you feel pressured to take on additional tasks like meeting with a long-lost sibling’s pet ostrich or attending a webinar on carbon emissions when radioactive environmental threats are really more your thing, this week you have the universe’s permission to decline. I would give you more specific tips on how to begin the “I can’t at this time” conversation, but I promised a friend that I’d run an errand for her…