Weglinski: It’s Been a Rough Semester. Let’s Finish Strong

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Adam Fondren

The Block U on the University of Utah Campus, Salt Lake City, UT on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 (Photo by Adam Fondren | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sonia Weglinski, Opinion Writer

 

With the fall semester coming to an end, stress is high and motivation is at an all-time low for many of us. I’ve been struggling to complete basic assignments, and I often find myself dozing off or staring blankly at my laptop screen. I keep having to remind myself that it’s not, in fact, winter break — I still have finals. Many of my friends at the University of Utah have come to me expressing their lack of motivation — as freshman Maddie Wagner candidly put it, “I just want it to be over.”

Sometimes referred to as the “end of semester slump,” this unforgiving phenomenon affects college students everywhere and can be hard to break. This past semester has been particularly bad, though — we entered the school year during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the peak of the election. Our anxiety levels were already high, so it’s only natural that we’d eventually reach our burn-out point — and burn out hard. Unfortunately, finals are weighted the heaviest on our grades, so we can’t quit yet. We need to stay motivated during these last few days. It might seem impossible to even think about starting that last big project or paper, but there are strategies we can use to mitigate stress and exhaustion from finals while also staying productive.

Since the U kicked us off-campus in the spring, it’s hard to not associate coming home with an academic break. We want nothing more than to relax and enjoy the holidays without the pressure of finals. Likewise, attempting to actually do homework at home can be futile. We may feel overwhelmed by never-ending distractions, and can often find ourselves thinking, what’s the point? But there are ways to overcome this obstacle.

First, establish a designated, distraction-free study space — away from siblings and TikTok. Or switch it up by studying at a local coffee shop or library, as long as you wear a mask and keep your distance from others. Do whatever you can to create an environment that will optimize your productivity.

Second, jot down a schedule for the day. When we feel lost and unmotivated, writing down a game plan can help us be more focused. One how-to college blog recommends creating a needs vs. wants list. This organization can help us keep to a schedule rather than struggle to keep up with an exhausting list of deadlines and commitments. Just remember, though, the plan should be realistic. This means 10 hours of straight studying or pulling an all-nighter for an essay is a no-go, especially since self-care and relaxation go hand-in-hand with academic success. If we fail to listen to our bodies, we risk sacrificing our mental health, which can worsen the “slump.”

Personally, I’ve taken up meditating as my preferred finals week habit. It helps me de-stress, and studies have shown that even 10 minutes of mindfulness reaps many benefits. Similarly, college student Jasmin Balahadia likes to take some alone time to watch her favorite show and paint her nails when things get overwhelming. There’s something for everyone to do in the long list of self-care practices. So take a break from the bucket-load of homework, watch a YouTube video on meditation or try a new color of nail polish, and know that things will be okay.

Most importantly, remember that the worst is almost over, and five weeks off are just around the corner. If we were able to get through most of the semester through a global pandemic — albeit scathed — then we can handle a couple more finals on top of it. Our future selves will be grateful that we picked up that last assignment and kept pushing through the odds. Feeling discouraged is to be expected, but how we react to these drawbacks makes the most difference.

The end is in sight. Take a deep breath and know we’re all in this together. Even though many of us don’t have the same diligence and efficiency we had at the beginning of the school year — or back in early March — planning and implementing self-care strategies can help us finish this semester off strong.

 

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@sonnyweg

@soniaweglinski