As the last final weeks of the semester are upon us, it can be a challenging time as students and staff alike are exhausted and ready for break. However, we all want to finish the semester well, so here are a couple reminders to best help us to that end.
Take care of your body. This is probably the area that is most neglected during this time of the year. Let’s face it: We are all better people and humans when we sleep for seven hours a night (roughly the same times to bed and up each morning), eat three well-balanced meals and have even moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day. And yet, these three areas are often completely neglected during this time. Our bodies need rest, food for fuel, and a physical outlet for stress. Your brain will likely be more prepared for an 8 a.m. final if you wake up a little early and go for a brisk walk or easy jog for 20 minutes than if you pound three cups of coffee. Make time to attend to these areas so that your body can be at its peak when you enter this stressful time.
Take care of your soul. For me, one of the most challenging things about this time of the year is the nonstop activity. What often gets neglected is personal time and reflection. We need to make time to reflect on: how we are doing (being mindful of our current emotional state), how we are coping (is it working or not? Are we avoiding destructive ways of coping?), what brings us purpose and meaning, and having perspective on what does and doesn’t matter. Often, recommitting ourselves to these existential questions can you give us motivation and drive to persevere during these challenging times.
Take care of your mind. In the midst of busy and crazy schedules, we are often just focused on checking off our daily tasks and don’t think about what our mental perspective is during these times. How I think about stress has a lot to do with how the stress affects me. I don’t want to garner eye-rolls by quoting “strength rejoices in the challenge,” but honestly, it is important to see that stressful times are often times that we grow as moral, intellectual, and social beings. That will likely only happen if we view challenging times as just that: a challenge.
One last tip is that this is often the time of the semester when students realize they are behind in classes; they skipped too many classes; didn’t apply themselves the way they really meant to; are struggling with non-academic related issues that are impacting the classroom; or having other challenges. So, be aware of those things. Set relevant goals for next semester so that mistakes don’t repeat themselves. Access resources on campus — professor office hours, counseling, career guidance, meeting with a mentor — to best insure that you can handle stress and challenge next semester.