End-of-Semester Tips

Cornell clock tower with cherry blossoms in foreground

We’re on 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 & mind with nutritious food.
  • Get some exercise. Even walking counts!
  • Make time to connect with others and do things you enjoy.
  • Get out in nature: Spending time in nature boosts our mood and cognitive functioning (science says so!). 
  • Avoid / limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol can decrease your focus, energy, and sleep quality.  
  • Take advantage of resources: Attend a free online CAPS workshops on anxiety, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and other topics, or drop in to an online Let's Meditate session.

Stress management

A healthy amount of stress can be motivating – but too much stress can impact your ability to function at your best. 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 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).