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How to stay healthy and on top of work in “crunch time”

By Tess Kuhelj, 4th-year Con. Ed./French & Geography major

So you’ve made it to week ten — congrats! Midterms are done and the holidays are just around the corner… All you have to do is get through 5 essays, 3 tests, 6 labs and 4 exams. No biggie, right? At this point, it always feels like you can do one of two things: start your holiday break early or pull all-nighters for the rest of the semester. Although you might consider both of these options, it IS possible to get the mental satisfaction of option A and the academic results of option B.

First of all, it is important to prioritize your work. At a time like this, you might not be able to finish every reading and review weekly notes from every class, and that is fine! There are only so many hours of the day, and it’s unrealistic to work for all of them. Instead of stressing over the smaller, non-pressing tasks, you can put them on the back burner for now and catch up later. It’s not ideal to get too far behind on readings and weekly notes, but realistically if you have a paper worth 30, 40 or even 50% of your mark, it’s not worth it to stress over things that don’t necessarily have a time constraint.

Once you have prioritized which tasks are the most important, make a schedule of when you will work on each assignment and actually do it! The more assignments you have, the earlier you will want to start planning for them. Another good strategy to manage multiple assignments is to assign yourself fake deadlines. Sometimes it feels like professors all call each other up and plan to have their big assignments due within the same three days, but by creating fake deadlines for yourself, you won’t have to go a week without sleep. Figure out how much time you will need for each assignment and work backwards from there. If you need a week for three different papers, start three weeks early and finish a paper a week. That way, you won’t have the stress of trying to complete three different papers all due around the same time and you’ll have the opportunity to edit them.

Although it is important to get your assignments done, it is even more important to take care of your mental and physical health. In a high stress time like this, your body becomes more vulnerable to infection (especially in the height of flu season!). A good way to prevent this is to make sure you are getting at 8 hours of sleep each night and are eating plenty of fruits and veggies! Taking extra vitamins can also be a good idea if you don’t think you are getting them from your food.

Another crucial factor in taking care of yourself at this point is to take study breaks. Seeing as the holidays are just around the corner, try doing festive things like decorating your room, watching your favourite holiday movies or baking holiday treats. This is a great reward that allows you to get into the holiday spirit while still getting all of your assignments done.

A very important thing to remember is that you are NOT going through this alone; many of your friends and classmates will be going through a high stress time as well. Reaching out to them is important at this time and knowing/using the resources available around campus will also lessen the burden of this stressful time.

Good luck in the next couple of weeks. I know you are going to do amazing and, most importantly, happy (almost) holidays!

Photo courtesy of Mark Strobl under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.