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10 Ways to Manage Your End-of-Semester Stress

Well, Vols, it’s that time already; only a few weeks left in the semester and all the projects, papers, exams, and last-minute challenges can create a lot of additional stress. With late-night study sessions, time away from friends and family (or time WITH friends and family), and all the increased pressures that accumulate this time of year, it’s no wonder you might start to burn out. So here are some tips and suggestions to help you cope and even thrive as you wrap up this fall semester strong.

  1. Get organized. If you have not already, develop a schedule with all your remaining due dates. Then break down the projects into smaller parts and decide when to do what. Having a plan enables you to take better control of your time and energy so you can handle stress more effectively.
  2. Control your environment. Notice and take charge of who and what is surrounding you. Spend your time with the people in the places that support you rather than drain you.
  3. Be positive about yourself. Notice your self-talk and make sure you are treating yourself with respect and love; the same way you treat others you love. Self –criticism, and shame do not typically promote better behavior, but rather, tend to discourage you. So treat yourself with dignity and respect even when your performance is not perfect. Most of us, most of the time, are doing the best we can.
  4. Reward yourself. Plan some leisure activities in your life. Include people you enjoy being with. It really helps to have something to look forward to.
  5. Exercise your body. Your health and productivity depend upon your body’s ability to bring oxygen and food to its cells. So unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider, exercise your heart and lungs three to five days per week for 15-30 minutes through activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, etc.
  6. Stay in the moment. Use mindfulness exercises or other techniques to help you stay in the present moment and not spending precious energy worrying about future or past events. Reviewing the past and fretting about the future typically yield no benefit and take away energy for your current project (see TAO Connect below).
  7. Get plenty of rest. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. Take study breaks. There is only so much your mind can absorb at one time. It needs time to process and integrate information. A good tip to remember is to take a ten-minute break every hour. Rest your eyes as well as your mind. Resting even when you don’t have time to rest can typically increase productivity enough to “make up” for the rest time.
  8. Listen to your body. Be aware of distress signals such as insomnia, headaches, anxiety, upset stomach, lack of concentration, colds/flu, excessive tiredness, etc. Remember, these can be signs of potentially more serious disorders (i.e., ulcers, hypertension, heart disease).
  9. Eat a healthy diet. Eat foods that restore you rather than giving you a quick but short-lived boost. Avoid foods that are high in fats and sugar. Avoid marijuana and other drugs. Use alcohol sparingly if at all. Alcohol, marijuana, drugs, and sugary foods can impair your cognitive functioning and just make tasks harder. Caffeine in moderation will help with alertness but may also impair sleep and rest. Excessive amounts of caffeine create jitters and difficulty concentrating. Light brisk exercise is healthier and often more effective stimulant than caffeine.
  10. Enjoy your life in this community of learning. Remember that the opportunity for a college education is a gift. Enjoy the learning. Savor the opportunity to grow and develop. You have nothing to prove. Exams and assignments are simply an opportunity to showcase your learning and find out ways to improve. Just put in the effort and you’ll get where you need to go.

Additional support and strategies can be found online in our TAO Connect program:

Therapy Assistance Online

Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), is available to you as a self-enrolled, self-help program. The platform provides tools and educational modules to help you learn about and change how you think and feel. These modules are designed to help you have a better understanding of your personal experiences and equip you with strategies to aid you in feeling less anxious today and as you go forward in your life.

TAO is designed for your schedule. TAO’s educational modules can be completed anytime and anywhere you have internet access. You don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to travel to meet with your therapist, and getting help is your private business.

Note: If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed, hopeless, burdensome, and perhaps considering self-harm or suicide, please give us a call at 974-2196 or come into the Counseling Center, or call the 24-hour crisis and referral line: 974-HELP (4357). We acknowledge that long term therapy may not be feasible with only a few weeks left in the semester, and we always make room for any student experiencing a mental health crisis. We will be glad to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings and figure out how to manage these last few weeks of the semester. Many students find that two or three sessions with a counselor are all they need to get back on track.

Watch this video to learn how to access the Student Counseling Center