Coping during "crunch time"

Monday, November 7, 2022 Coping during "crunch time"

Stack of books with coffee sitting in the leaves

November usually means “crunch time” in the fall semester. Fall break and Halloween are behind us, tests and projects are coming up fast, with finals looming just after Thanksgiving break. Add in internship searches, elections in a fraternity or sorority and winter holiday preparations, and it can be a perfect storm of stress. Have no fear – we have tips for managing end-of-semester stress to avoid burnout.

  • Prioritize sleep – Of course you can feel it when you’re running low on sleep; you might feel extra tired or sluggish while in class. Sleep plays a big role in overall health beyond just feeling tired. Sleep directly impacts the immune system – studies have shown people who slept less than six hours are about twice as likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus. Lack of sleep can also contribute to poor mental health, including anxiety and depression.
  • Be okay with saying “No” – As deadlines get closer, it becomes more important to prioritize school and your most important organizational or social obligations. Try to think ahead and picture what your workload will be a month from now – if adding more to your plate sounds overwhelming, be prepared to set boundaries with those around you. It can be uncomfortable to say no, but it will feel better to say “no” now than to say “yes” and be unable to follow through on what you promised later.
  • Schedule in time to relax and recharge – If you have a lot on your plate, block off time just for you to recharge. Add it into your calendar or planner and commit to keeping it as a time you can use to relax and take care of yourself. That could be eating a meal, watching a favorite show, going to the gym, or taking a nap – just something productive for your self-care, which means no homework!
  • Avoid a “work hard, play hard” mentality – After a long week of homework, projects, and exams it can be tempting to use alcohol or marijuana to help forget the stress. However, the amount of alcohol it requires to forget usually also results in a hangover or even blacking out. Waking up the next morning unable to study or concentrate enough to get work done will most likely cause you to fall further behind and add to your stress. Even if consumed in more moderate amounts, drinking to relieve stress can have negative impacts on mental health. Similarly, marijuana can be habit-forming, and you may not know the THC level you experience which can leave you more on edge than relaxed.
  • Don’t rely on stimulants – When the pressure is on, you may be willing to try anything to get through the semester with the grades you want. It may be tempting, but don’t use stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Cocaine in an attempt to increase your energy or boost your focus. Not only is it harmful to your health, but it could result in trouble with the university and/or the legal system. Instead of relying on substances, use healthy coping strategies to get through the end of the semester.
  • Take advantage of campus resources – UNL has many resources available to support students. If you are concerned about academics, take advantage of free tutoring through the Center for Academic Success Center& Transition (CAST) or your academic college. Attend office hours, meet with your recitation group or get a paper proofread at the Writing Center. If you’re struggling with finding balance or dealing with general stress management, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or Big Red Resilience & Wellbeing can offer support through counseling sessions or peer listening sessions.
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