Serving students and faculty since 1971

Man covering his ears with his hands, stressed out.

The end is in sight. The Winter 2021 semester is coming to a close.

We are a week or so away from completing our final exams and turning in our final projects and essays. The work load is piling up, and we have limited time to pull it all together. Between managing our university lives and our personal lives, all of this can feel exhausting and downright stressful.

Believe me, because we didn’t have a traditional “Spring break” this semester, I took my “Wellness Days”, very seriously. Both days I spent zero time on school work–it was amazing. However, as we get closer to the end of the semester, I’m starting to pull my hair out (not literally, but you know what I mean).

Instead of advising you to stay up until 11:59pm when an assignment is due (if you must though, I get it), I wanted to share a few other tips that help me manage my “end of the semester craziness”.

Movement and Exercise

Something my very first Yoga teacher taught me was, if you have time to brush your teeth, you have time to exercise. I think he’s right. Some form of movement and exercise has always helped me feel more sane, and honestly, makes me just a happier person. Whether it’s a 20 minute walk outside through my neighborhood, or a 30 minute spin ride on the Peloton, my mind seems clearer and my overall mood seems to lift after I move my physical body.

To be clear, it doesn’t have to be a formal workout routine or formal exercise program. For example, I like to dance. So, when I need to get some stress out of my body, I put my headphones on, crank up my favorite dance tunes, and get crazy for a few minutes. I feel so much better afterwards! Move however makes you happy, and make the time for it when you feel the most stressed.

Organize Your Workload

Whether you are taking two classes this semester, or five, organizing your weekly and daily schedule may help you feel more balanced when managing your workload. For me, I like to use a whiteboard. In my office, the whiteboard hangs near my computer monitor so that I can constantly peek at it while I work or attend classes.

Every week, I update the whiteboard to match what I need to get accomplished for each class, as well as the Writing Center. As you can see in the picture, I only have a few classes so my whiteboard isn’t giant. If you have several classes, I highly suggest getting a large whiteboard. I found mine at Target for a really good price!

In my experience, using the whiteboard helps hold me accountable to the assignments I need to tackle, while also giving me a visual of what needs to get done. Once I have my weekly agenda set, I can get more specific with a daily agenda.

For example, in my phone calendar (which syncs with my email), I type in a daily agenda for each day of the week. Depending on my class due dates, I designate specific classes to a set day and time for when I need to work on those assignments. In my phone calendar, it would look something like: Monday April 12th, 10am-4pm, ENG 340: Finalize WoW Project. Then, my phone alerts me of my schedule with a reminder, just in case I get off track or busy in my day.

When I have a clear organization of my class schedules and assignment workload, I feel less stressed because I have a diligent routine that works in conjunction with my life outside of the university.

Get Enough Sleep

Ever stayed up until the last minute to submit an assignment? Pulled an “all night-er” because you put off your least favorite class assignment? Yea, me too. However, this strategy doesn’t work for me anymore. Staying up late cuts off my functional sleep schedule.

There’s nothing that bogs me down more than when I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep. It automatically sets my day off to a weird, sluggish, and over-caffeinated start. Now, some people may not need eight hours of sleep. Maybe you are someone who thrives off of only six or five hours of sleep. Whatever your ideal number is, try to maintain it during your most stressful times.

Waking up from a good night’s rest, brings me a confidence as I begin my day. Eight hours of sleep also helps my mental clarity and focus. If you’re someone who struggles to go to sleep, and get into a deep sleep, I highly recommend trying meditation. There are many free applications available such as Headspace, that many people find helpful when it’s time to go to bed. Conversely, meditation is also a great way to wake up and begin your day. So you can also play around with meditating morning and/or night!

No matter what, do your best to take care of yourself.

And if these tips don’t work for you this semester, maybe give them a shot next semester. If you miss your meditation, or you forget to exercise, try not to beat yourself up. If you’re struggling with managing your stress and personal life, remember that U of M-Flint offers counseling and therapy through CAPS to enrolled students.

And lastly, if you’re stressed out and looking for feedback on your final papers or presentations, schedule an appointment with the Writing Center, we’re here to help!

The end of the semester is near. You got this!