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Top 10 ways to push through the rest of the semester

Between work, exams and persistent allergies, it’s hard to find any relief this spring

<p>Don’t let these negative thoughts cloud your mind — this spring, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. &nbsp;</p>

Don’t let these negative thoughts cloud your mind — this spring, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace.  

For better or for worse, we’ve finally reached April — just over a month left of school. As the academic year winds down, the workload is increasingly revving up ahead of finals. Juggling extracurriculars, classes and self-care is much more difficult than it was in early March, with calendars overflowing with to-dos and “absolutely don’t-forgets.” It may not feel like it now, but we will conquer the rest of this semester, one day at a time. Here are a few ways to help get through these last few weeks of the academic year.

1. Stroll by the flowers — or very far away from plants

This next month will be the most demanding of the semester, and that means more hours spent inside, whether that be hunkering down in the Clark stacks or locked away in your dorm room. With this in mind, seeking a change of scenery has never been more important. Take some much-needed study breaks by taking walks around a blooming Grounds. Decompress by exploring paths you don’t traverse on a typical day — or journey familiar routes — but ditch the backpack and simply take in your surroundings. However, my fellow allergy-sufferers should venture cautiously — the flowers may not be your best friends this April.

2. Put an exciting event or two on the books

It’s not easy to stay motivated when you know that the next four days of the week will be more of the same — trying to understand the most complicated concepts of the same subjects. To get yourself through the remaining few weeks of the academic year, attend a few events to break up your studying. Don’t overbook yourself — give yourself the time you need to feel good about your work — but also schedule something that you can look forward to. My motivators over the next few weeks will be a capella concerts, from groups like the Virginia Belles and Hullabahoos, and going to the men’s lacrosse game against Notre Dame April 27.

3. Curate the ultimate study playlist — or just noise, period

To get locked into school work, students need the right background noise. For some, the chatter on Clem 4 is just the thing that unlocks their study potential — something I will never understand. Others put in their AirPods and listen to mellow tunes on Spotify. Leading into finals season, queue up the perfect study mix with the sounds that will keep you in the right mindframe. For those of you who don’t work well with music, fill your ears with steady noise to filter out auditory distractions. I love white noise on YouTube to drown out group project meetings in the Clark stacks, though I recently discovered that there are different “colors” of noise with different frequencies. Take some time to find the right color for you this April.

4. Change up your study spot

If you haven’t already put it together, I am something of a frequenter of the Clark stacks. However, this study spot — like others — can be quite isolating, dark and somber. At those moments when you realize how gloomy — or, let’s be honest, probably unhealthy — that spot is, it may be time to try out a different, more uplifting location. Get out of that dark corner and try the glass-ceilinged areas of Shannon Library, the upstairs of Clark — a novel idea to stacks-goers, I know — or The Dome Room of the Rotunda. This switcheroo will bring an air of lightness to studying — and literal brightness in the form of natural light into your retina.

5. Make time with friends

When exam season hits, it becomes all too easy to brush off meals with others to put work first, but this is when it is most critical to see friends. Take the edge of studying off by scheduling time with people who make you smile. This doesn’t have to take the form of some off-Grounds extravaganza — a simple bite at the dining hall is all it takes. As long as you surround yourself with the people who make you feel happy, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you go so long as you’re with them. Being present in friends’ company — walking, eating or just sitting — can go a long way towards bringing you some positivity.

6. Practice mindfulness

If there’s anything I’ve taken away from my “Learn to Groove” drum course experience this semester — other than some AfroCuban rhythmic patterns — is the importance of awarenessing. We take the first few minutes of every class to clear our minds, stay with our breath and prepare ourselves for the next 45 minutes of drumming. The act of simply being aware of how we feel — not trying to change our feelings, but acknowledging them — allows you to connect with the present moment. It is truly a life-changing practice. During these stressful final weeks of the year, give back to yourself with a few moments for mindfulness.

7. Grab some taste bud pick-me-ups

Sometimes the one thing that gets us through long study sessions or essay drafting hours is the perfect snack. Vending machines in the libraries not cutting it? Venture a little further for your culinary craving by hitting up Insomnia Cookies or the new Chap’s Ice Cream location on the Corner. Treat yourself a little bit this spring with whatever food gets you energized to work. I know I’ll be making some pit-stops at Ben & Jerry’s before heading to the library over the next few weeks.

8. Set clear extracurricular boundaries

Clubs and organizations are a critical part of the college experience. However, during the busiest time of the semester, your expectations for yourself — as well as the club members’ expectations for you — cannot practically be the same as during the rest of the school year. While it’s important to keep up with your commitments and stay involved, a more palatable, reduced role is not only understandable, but necessary. This April, set clear expectations with others in your extracurriculars so that you can still contribute at a level that works for you. For me, that means keeping an open line of communication with my editors at The Cavalier Daily and fellow Engineering Student Council Board members.

9. Get your obligations out of your head

In the last weeks of the semester, there is constantly too much to do. To keep the stressful jumble of to-dos off my mind, I write everything down or type it out. Whether it be a list or schedule, laying out all of my tasks helps me see a tangible path forward for the next few days — or at least the next few hours. It also ensures that I don’t miss any deadlines along the way. Google Calendar, Outlook tasks or Notion — you name it — are going to be your best friends this April.

10. Be your biggest cheerleader — pom poms and all

It’s hard not to get aggravated while preparing for finals or trying to finish homework sets, projects and papers. Every task feels like it takes ten times longer than it should. Don’t let these negative thoughts cloud your mind — this spring, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. Being a college student isn’t supposed to be easy — managing all of this work is challenging, which is all the more reason to serve as your biggest cheerleader. Write yourself some positive affirmations on sticky notes and place them around your living space — they may just serve as the greatest inspiration to keep pushing ahead. Over these last few weeks, ditch the negativity, look forward and embrace the challenge.


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