You’re almost there.
We know, we know. February seemed bad, but March and April are turning out to be even harder.
Well, we’re not here to say that you should cheer up and enjoy the stress. However, there are good ways to respond to the end-of-year workload and there are-not-so good ways.
At this time of year, most students get so focused on their studies that their balance goes off-kilter. Studying becomes so all-encompassing that everything else in your life disappears. Ironically, it’s when your workload is heaviest that you need that balance more than ever.
You’re almost there. Let’s think about some great ways to rebalance and stay motivated during the home stretch.
Break it down – and take breaks!
When you look at everything you have to do, it gets overwhelming pretty quickly. But we forget that big tasks are just a bunch of small tasks put together. There’s a lot of information out there on how best to manage your time, but start with knowing this one thing: it’s less stressful if you can focus on getting one small thing done at a time.
Remember also that your brain can only take so much at a time, so when you’re studying, take lots of little breaks (five minutes every half-hour or ten minutes every hour), breathe, and maybe stretch your legs.
It’s easy to fall into bad eating habits during crunch time. We can end up skipping meals (especially breakfast) eating a lot of greasy, bready fast foods (hello, burgers and pizza!), which ends up making us feel lethargic and gross. Not the best way to feel when you’re trying to study!
So eat a good breakfast, and buy yourself some healthy snacks – carrot sticks, raisins, nuts – for the library. There’s no shortage of great foods to eat.
Research shows that one of the best ways to improve our mood is to just get moving. A few stretches while studying or a walk around the block when you’re stuck can clear your head.
Take a break from your studies and join a yoga class, go for a long bike ride. Or remember that gym membership at the AC or Hart House you’ve been meaning to use? Take advantage of that now!
No one says you can’t have fun during stressful times. Well, if they do say it, they’re wrong. It’s okay to occasionally reward yourself for your hard work by having coffee with friends, going to a movie or just enjoying a few hours of leisure time. (Just do the hard work before giving yourself the reward!)
Take the long view
Do you remember why you came here in the first place? When the going gets tough, sometimes you wonder why you bother.
The exams and assignments you’re going through right now are steps towards your goal for a university degree, a great education and a rewarding career. This period will be over soon, and you may not feel it now, but you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment about having completed so many challenges in such a short time.
Stay connected and share
Let your friends and family know what you need during this time. Sometimes you just need to be left alone. Sometimes you need to talk. Sometimes you’ll need more support. And if you have a friend who’s struggling, share any tips you have or direct them to a university service that can help them.