Apr 15, 2019 | Atlanta, GA
Moyosore Afolabi knows the end-of-semester struggle.
“There are projects, finals, and a bunch of research to get done,” said Afolabi, a Ph.D. student in Environmental Engineering. “There are just a lot of deadlines.”
In spite of all of the work, Afolabi has taken steps to avoid being overwhelmed.
“Lately, at the end of the day, I’ll leave my laptop in my office,” Afolabi said. “That way, I won’t feel obligated to work at home. I also try to make to-do lists every Sunday to stay organized and get up to walk around on my lunch break.”
If you could use some strategies to manage end-of-semester stress, we’ve got you covered, thanks to Peter Hauge, graduate student services coordinator at the Counseling Center. Read on for his top seven tips.
- Get some Zs. Sleeping may seem like a waste of limited time. But, getting your eight hours is crucial to doing well in class and in the lab. “Even when it feels like you need to be staying up and pulling all-nighters, sleep is really beneficial,” Hauge said. “It’s when you consolidate information in your long-term memory, and it gives you the resources to be more efficient throughout your day. When you take time to sleep, it’s a natural de-stressing activity, and you’re going to be much more effective in your work.”
- Eat your veggies. When you’re working for hours on a project or paper, it’s easy to forget to eat healthy foods. “It’s important to remember that the body and mind are connected,” Hauge said. “When you have a lot of work to do, you get out of your routine. So, you might eat more fast food or eat really late at night. Think of it like, if you put the best kind of fuel in your engine, you can give yourself the best chance.” Taking a break to get your lunch or packing food ahead of time can give you the energy you need to get through assignments. For more advice on how to eat well while getting work done, check out the Health Initiatives nutrition page.
- Check in with friends. Focusing on your work is good, but avoiding isolation during finals is important, too. “We tend to withdraw when we get stressed, which can be helpful for some,” Hauge said. “But, I think it’s important to commiserate with your peers, and work alongside them. We get that sense of, this may be a lot right now, but I’m part of a team going through this as well. It really helps make it manageable.” Whether you can study with friends, or just text someone while on a break, staying connected can help motivate you to get through work.
- Get moving. It’s easy to get stuck at your desk when there’s a lot to do. Getting exercise can give you a break from working on the same project all day, help you release some stress, and refresh your perspective. “Even if it’s 30 minutes of walking around campus, getting up and moving is a great way to take some space from work,” Hauge said.
- Be present. With the end of the semester approaching, assignments and plans for the future can be overwhelming. A good way to combat worrying about the future is mindfulness. “We can do all the planning and worrying about things happening in the future,” Hauge said. “But, what’s most important is what’s happening now. You can realize that something is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.” One way to stay mindful is meditation. You can try meditating by yourself on a study break. Or, check out the Meditation Club meetings at 6 p.m. on Mondays in Room 127, Clough Commons.
- Practice self-care. Another way to avoid getting lost in work and research is practicing self-care. Getting a moment to take care of yourself goes a long way to keep you working more efficiently. “Self-care can be any activity that brings some sense of enjoyment, or makes you feel accomplished,” Hauge said. “It helps to separate you from any stress in your life.” For example, on April 24, head to Room 320, Student Center, to visit the therapy dogs that come to campus around exam time.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s natural to want something to be perfect, but not allowing any flaws can actually slow down your work. “I talk with students all the time who spend hours trying to make something perfect, when they’ve already made it good enough,” Hauge said. “Trying to see the gray and not just black and white can help you perform better, since you’re not worried about a specific outcome.” When dealing with a lot of things to do, not getting in your own way is crucial. Even if an assignment doesn’t turn out like you planned, giving yourself credit for your efforts can cut down on stress, Hauge added.
For more tips on staying healthy during stressful times, check out the Health Initiatives website. Have additional question or want to talk to someone further about your stressors? Contact the Counseling Center for more information.