Faculty Share Helpful Tips for Finals Week Survival and Winter Break Rejuvenation

The questionnaire


Fall 2020–heck, the whole year– has been like no other. College is hard enough without all the distractions led by a global pandemic. Students, faculty and staff have all felt the pressure.

As Finals Week and Winter Break approaches, shape your own checklist for success and self-care. Here are some ideas shared from your faculty:

  • Swallow the biggest frog first
    • As Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat two frogs, eat the biggest frog first.” If you have a task you’re dreading, tackle that one first! Once you’re done, the rest of your tasks will seem easier in comparison.
  • Aim for small wins instead
    • We all want to be done, but instead of going for the big items — and feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of work that they represent — make a list of small things, and cross off those items as you complete them.
  • Set some goals
    • Setting achievable, time-limited goals can help you focus your efforts and gather the motivation for the last sprint over the finish line. When you reach your goal, reward yourself with something fun, soothing, or invigorating.
  • Engage in random acts of kindness
    • Helping others can help to boost your mood and your motivation. Even something as simple as paying for the coffee for the person behind you in line can help you feel more cheerful and better about the work in front of you.
  • Use music to keep you in the zone
    • Consider using music to keep you mentally focused. Select music that keeps you centered on the task at hand.
  • Have faith in your work
    • Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Try not to worry about the outcomes.
  • “Give me a break!”
    • Take a 10-minute break. When? Any time you think you need it. Do nothing, talk to somebody, or go for a brisk walk.
  • Use small rewards to keep you going
    • You really do deserve that yummy cup of coffee, tea, or treat. Just the kind of short distraction that will help you get back in the zone.
  • Walk away, and come back recharged
    • Sometimes we’re so focused on getting through the current batch that we fail to realize we’re exhausted. Walk away and recharge, which will likely save you time, reduce mistakes, and lessen stress.
  • Take a power nap
    • Is there ever a bad time to take a nap, especially a power nap? If you feel drained, mentally, or physically, set a 20-minute timer and let yourself drift off. That might be just the kind of reboot you need.
  • Drink water
    • When in doubt, drink a glass of water. Neither your body nor your mind will work well if you’re dehydrated, jittery from caffeine consumption, or constantly jumping at the pings of your digital devices. Have some self-care in a glass.
  • Chat with your family and friends
    • Having some meaningful or relaxing conversations with your family and friends. Sharing your feelings, stories, and experiences about life and work. Planning your next trip after the pandemic together.
  • Check-in on a fellow student
    • Being 100% virtual can lead to isolation. Make a quick call or send an email to a friend and fellow student just checking in on them. It’s nice to know we’re not alone in the boat.
  • Tidy up; Reposition a keepsake
    • If your room, home or workspace is a mess, tidy it up. Messiness creates stress. While you’re at it, move or place a pleasant memento (photo, object) in your field of view. It will remind you of more pleasant times.
  • Get some sun, like a winter sunflower!
    • Sunlight can be a great energizer. Be on the lookout for sunny periods and find study spots where you can “follow the sun.” Pretend you’re a winter sunflower.
  • Practice self-compassion
    • “If you have no compassion for yourself, then you are not able of developing compassion for others” (Dalai Lama). Start your day giving gratitude for the small things. Practice unconditional acceptance of yourself and others. After all, we’re all just doing the best we can.
  • Build your post-semester list
    • When you handed in your last final, what are you looking forward to?
  • Spring ahead to spring semester!
    • Make a list of what needs to be done before starting the spring semester and begin checking things off the list. You’ll enjoy the break more without it all hanging over your head.


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