End-of-Semester Tips

Take breaks to study smarter

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Research shows that taking purposeful, energizing study breaks refreshes your brain and body and increases your productivity and ability to focus. Learn more about the research.

We’re in the homestretch!  Take a moment to acknowledge how far you’ve come ... and consider these tips for how to finish the semester strong.

Academic tips

Focusing on your academics doesn’t mean your well-being has to suffer. Plan ahead to balance your time between studying and self-care. 

  • Create a "homestretch calendar" for the remaining weeks/days of the semester to stay organized and reduce feeling overwhelmed. The Learning Strategies Center has great resources for creating a time management calendar, along with other helpful tips.
  • Communicate early with professors and academic advisors if you need extra help or anticipate difficulty meeting deadlines.  
  • Take study breaks. Taking purposeful breaks from studying (unfortunately, social media doesn’t count) of 5–60 minutes at a time to refresh your brain, and increase energy, productivity, and ability to focus. 


Yes, it really matters! Self-care is the foundation of well-being and academic success.

  • Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. 
  • Take care of your body: Fuel your body and mind with nutritious food, and find opportunities to move. Even walking counts!
  • Keep stress in check: Find healthy ways to many stress (see ideas below).
  • Recharge your battery: Use study breaks to connect with friends or do things you enjoy.
  • Avoid / limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol can decrease your focus, energy, and sleep quality.  

Healthy ways to de-stress

A healthy amount of stress can be motivating – but too much stress can impact your ability to function at your best. Here are some great ways to keep stress in check.

  • Exercise: Exercise in almost any form – from stretching or yoga to taking a brisk walk or engaging in aerobic exercise – relieves stress and boosts your feel-good endorphins. Try these free online and in-person classes from Cornell's Fitness Centers. 
  • Connect with others: Share a meal with a friend, or call a family member. Find opportunities to laugh, be emotionally open, and talk about something other than schoolwork. 
  • Get out in nature: Research shows that spending even short periods of time in nature reduces stress and improve your sense of well-being. Try taking a walk around Beebe Lake or through the Botanic Gardens. Find other ideas on Cornell's NatureRX website or through Cornell Outdoor Education.  
  • Meditate: Meditation has numerous proven physical and mental health benefits, including reducing reactivity to stressors and helping to put things back in perspective. Try a free free Let’s Mediate session, offered weekdays in person and by Zoom. 
  • Try a 5-minute stress buster: Pause, take a few deep breaths in through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth to reduce anxiety, restore perspective, and refocus. Find more stress busters here.
  • Reframe: Cornell students have extremely high standards for themselves. Try to let go of perfectionism, and view challenges as growth opportunities. Overcoming the fear of failure is only accomplished by doing things you fear over and over again, resolving to bounce back, and learning throughout the process.


If you’re struggling, don’t wait until things get worse; reach out now for support. Here are are some places to start:

  • Visit mentalhealth.cornell.edu for campus-wide resources and support options.
  • Drop in to a Let’s Talk session to consult informally with a CAPS counselor.
  • Call Cornell Health 24/7 (607-255-5155) to speak with a CAPS counselor or a therapist from our on-call service. 
  • Talk with you your residential staff about support and resources. 
  • Connect with a peer mentor through EARS
  • Use our list of recommended 24/7 hotlines & text lines (local and national).