End-of-Semester Tips

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." The Learning Strategies Center has great resources for creating an end-of-semester 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. 

Self-care

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

  • Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. 
  • Eat well: Fuel your body and mind with nutritious food.
  • Move your body. Build in time for some physical activity. Even walking counts!
  • Keep stress in check: Find healthy ways to many stress (see ideas below).
  • Make time for fun: Find opportunities to do things you enjoy and connect with others.
  • Avoid / limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol can decrease your focus, energy, and sleep quality.  
  • Try a workshop: Attend a free online CAPS workshops on anxiety, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and other topics.

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.

  • 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. Bundle up and take 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 online free Let’s Mediate session, offered every day Monday-Friday in person and by Zoom. 
  • 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.

5-minute stress busters

Try these 5-minute stress busters when you feel your stress level rising.

  • Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths through your nose – filling up your whole chest – and exhale slowly through your mouth. Try to make your exhale longer than your inhale.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Starting with your toes and working your way up to your head, slowly tighten ... hold ... and then relax your muscle groups (feet, legs, buttocks, abdomen, shoulders, arms, hands, face). This type of body scan exercise is also great for helping you fall asleep.
  • Mini-meditation: Even two-five minutes of meditation can calm your mind and help you feel more focused and relaxed. Learn how on our Meditation page.
  • Visualization: Mentally rehearse a task you want to master. Imagine yourself acing the task (taking an exam, having an important conversation). Now, focus on how your success feels (excited, relieved, satisfied, smart). Re-visit this feeling often.
  • Grounding exercise: While breathing deeply and slowly, connect with your five senses by naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
  • Thoughts as clouds: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Observe your thoughts as though they were clouds in the sky passing overhead, coming and going involuntarily.
  • Change of scenery: Get up and take a short walk. Or take the longer route to class to take in a few extra minutes of nature.
  • Let it out: Laugh with a friend. Do 20 jumping jacks. Put on your favorite song and dance.

Support 

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.
  • Call Cornell Health 24/7 (607-255-5155) to speak with a therapist from our on-call service, available any time, day or night. 
  • Drop in to a Let’s Talk session to consult informally with a CAPS counselor.
  • 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).