As I sit here in my university’s library my mind is swirling. I still have one class and two meetings left before my day is done, on top of 2 presentations, 3 exams, 3 final papers, and 1 group project to work on. I also need to find time to do my laundry, go grocery shopping, post on this blog, and apply to internships, and sleep. If I forget to do one of those things by a specific time then there can be major consequences. I can fail a class, have to drop my major, extend my schooling an extra semester, not be able to eat dinner, not have clean clothes to wear tomorrow, get sick, and even not have a job after graduation.
Woah. That’s a lot.
Stressed just reading that? Me too.
Take a deep breath.
This is exactly what many college students are going through at any given time, but especially in the final few weeks of the semester. This crunch time can quickly cause major burn out. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s nearly impossible to not feel some sort of stress as the semester comes to a close.
Thanksgiving break is often a cruel tease of what’s to come with Winter break. You get a taste of relaxation, even just for a moment, before being pushed back into the swirl and jumble of finals week.
It’s hard to deal with, wanting to relax and watch Netflix or go on vacation when you need to be studying or writing a paper. Hard to find time to do the essential things like showering or eating when you are stuck between sleeping and group project meetings.
While I personally am still working on perfecting a solution to this, I have found a few tips that help dealing with this end of the semester burn out a little bit easier.
Misery loves company. If you’re an extrovert and you thrive on the energy of being around other people, use that to your advantage. Grab your best friend, your roommate, or your significant other and start a study date.
Set a timer using the Pomodoro technique.
Work for 25 minutes then take a break for 5. Continue to do this 4 times, after the 4th 25 minute working time take an extended 15 minute break. Then start again!
By doing this with a small (emphasis on small!) group you keep each other accountable. Make a rule where there is no talking during those 25 minutes of work, unless it is specifically about your work or for a group project. During the breaks hangout, watch tv, play music, and have fun until it is time to work again.
This kind of working makes sure that you are as productive as possible while letting yourself relax in between with friends.
2. Get out of your room
I have a bad habit of trying to do homework on my bed and then falling asleep. It got to the point where I had to take a nap every single day in order to get through the day. Breaking that habit was incredibly difficult but I still am unable to complete an assignment in my own room.
Take a step out of your room. Go into your living room if you have one, or even go all the way to your campus’ local coffee shop or library. Even if you commute get out of your house and find a place in town to do some work.
If the weather permits consider working outside for the added bonus of fresh air and vitamin D.
3. Make health priority
Back in high school I had a “if it’s not done by 9:30 it’s not worth it” rule. If my homework wasn’t done by 9:30 I put it aside and let it pass. Of course there were some exceptions to this rule, if the assignment was over 10% of my grade or if it was almost done I gave myself an extra hour, but I didn’t let myself become broken over the little busy work.
Unfortunately this rule cannot follow me into college, as I sometimes don’t even start my homework until 10pm, but I have adapted it. Now “if it’s not done by 1:30am it’s not worth it.”
There has been one time I stayed up until 3am working on a 15 page term paper, and one time I stayed up until 2am working on a group presentation, but aside from that I stick to that rule.
Sleep is important. You can’t perform your best in an exam if you’re sleep deprived from studying the night before. That paper may be done but you don’t want to sleep through your alarm and miss class to turn it in.
Make sleep a priority. And eating, don’t forget to eat. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to to remind you when it’s a meal time.
4. Give yourself 2 hours of “me” time everyday
2 hours, somewhere in your busy schedule. Put it in your calendar, your planner. Don’t schedule meetings during then. Make it priority.
Shower. Eat. Curl up in a blanket. Paint your nails. Watch Gilmore Girls. Drink tea. Power nap (set an alarm though). Bake some cupcakes. Read a book. Scroll through Pinterest. Do some yoga. Do a face mask. Take a bubble bath.
Once your 2 hours are up, take a deep breath, get up, and get working.
5. Get it out and get active
This time of the year is frustrating. Get it out. Go for a walk, a run, a hike. Hit the gym and pound your frustration out into the treadmill. Scream into a pillow.
Have a manic dance party with your roommate. Do laps in the pool. Get active. Get those endorphins going and get your brain going with it.
How do you feel now? Refreshed, inspired, and ready to take on the world? I do. Time to get out of this library and go eat some lunch and do a face mask before class.
You’ve got this. You’ve got this. You’ve got this.