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7 Positive Ways to Handle Semester Stress

Student Life

April 04, 2023

It's that time of the year when assignments and tests tend to pile up quickly as the end of the school year nears. Burnout at this time of the year is extremely common and for a reason. The stress that accumulates as projects, papers, and tests pile up can be difficult to deal with.

Although you may find that school consumes most of your free time, there are still ways to cope with and even enjoy the remainder of school before summer break arrives. Here are tips for reducing stress and suggestions that are key to thriving as the school year comes to a close.

1. Don't Wait To The Last Minute

Cramming on assignments and studying creates unnecessary stress that can easily be avoided by doing a little each day. Rather than approaching assignments at the last minute, take consistent and small steps to complete a given assignment. By breaking a seemingly large task into small bits, you will not only be able to finish your task with less stress, but you will also feel more motivated to work on the given assignment as it no longer seems intimidating and daunting as it initially may have.

When given the opportunity, completing assignments ahead of time can also be key to staying on top of your work. If you know that a certain day or week is going to be especially busy for you, your future self will thank you for taking the initiative to work ahead on a project or starting to study for a test early.

2. Eat Right

The food you eat on a daily basis has a direct impact on your body and mind. Eating fast food and food high in refined sugar can make you feel sluggish and, in turn, unmotivated. The key to a balanced meal is incorporating carbs, protein, and fiber. Balanced meals will provide you with long-lasting energy is crucial to feeling sustained throughout the day and having the energy to study.

So the next time you have the urge to purchase a study snack from your school's vending machine, take a moment to reconsider and instead enjoy a snack like carrots and hummus or cheese and crackers that will not leave you feeling tired or groggy. You'll be surprised just how much of an effect the food you eat has on your energy levels and studying habits.

3. Take Study Breaks

Although you may see study breaks as taking you away from your work, using a few minutes of your time to relax can actually help you stay focused and increase motivation and energy. After a certain time spent studying, take a brief break to refresh your brain before continuing. You can decide to study for 25 minutes and then have a break of 5 minutes.

Or, you may find that working longer and taking longer breaks is more beneficial for you and maximizes your efficiency. In this case, you may decide to study for 50 minutes followed by a 10-minute study break.

4. Prioritize Sleep And Relaxing

Even if it means not finishing an assignment, make it a priority to sleep 7-8 hours a night. Waking up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to be productive is far more beneficial than sacrificing your sleep to complete an assignment. Sticking to the same bed time can be helpful in creating a routine that allows you to get plenty of rest.

Along with sleep, relaxing, even when it feels like you simply don't have the time for it, is key to sustained energy and productivity throughout the day. Relaxing can mean anything you want it to mean. It may include taking a break from devices and letting your eyes rest.

Or, it may mean going on a quick walk around your neighborhood. Take the time to do the things that give you a piece of mind and allow you to separate yourself from your schoolwork -- even if it is just for a few minutes.

5. Mindset Is Key

Constantly thinking about future or past assignments, tests, and more only takes energy away from your current workload. Whether you are disappointed in a grade you received for a past test or are stressing about a project due next week, remember to take it one day at a time. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by thinking of the past or future, take the time to remind yourself that all you can worry about now is the present. Don't let yourself become overwhelmed with things you simply cannot control; focus on what you do have power over.

6. Reward Your Hard Work

If you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to work efficiently on your schoolwork, you may not be adequately rewarding yourself for all of your hard work and commitment to your studies. Planning activities that you enjoy, whether it be hanging out with friends or going out to dinner with your family, can give you something to look forward to throughout your busy weeks.

7. Know That You're Doing Your Best

More often than not, you're doing better than you think you are. Even if you feel that you are not performing well enough on assessments, it is important to remember that you are putting in a great amount of effort. Despite not getting the results you desire all the time, you can always be proud of your hard work.

Stop yourself from placing pressure on yourself to achieve an unrealistic standard of academic excellence. Instead, praise yourself for how far you have come as a student.

With summer vacation so close, finding the motivation to work productively on assignments can seem impossible. This, along with the increase in stress from last-minute assignments, is why the last few remaining months of the school year are always the toughest to get through. Getting enough sleep, eating right, taking breaks, relaxing, and more can all play a big role in reducing stress. By prioritizing your well-being and making the right decisions for yourself, finishing the school year doesn't have to be so difficult.

Sophene Avedissian
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Sophene Avedissian is a sophomore in high school. She writes for her school newspaper, Spyglass, the Los Angeles Times High School Insider, and the Youth Civics Initiative. During her free time, Sophene enjoys reading, playing soccer, and spending time with family and friends.