The semester will soon come to a close, but before students can relax, they have one last hurdle to jump over: finals. Finals are hard no matter what, but now that almost everyone has gone home and shifted to fully remote classes, things are a little more challenging.
It’s important, now more than ever, that we are taking care of ourselves. This action of self-care can look different depending on the person. There are plenty of resources provided by Gonzaga for students as well as additional outside activities they can do at home.
Sean Joy is the interim director of the Center for Cura Personalis (CCP). Joy expressed that CCP is happy to meet with students at any time about any of their concerns whether it be about finals, home stressors, isolation, anxiety or anything in between, and give them a boost as well as be an advocate for them and get them in touch with the resources they need.
They can help students connect with counseling, whether it’s a counselor on campus or in the Spokane community or within the community of a student’s place of residence. Due to the pandemic, counseling has shifted from in person meetings to virtual meetings, so it is easily accessible to anyone who needs it.
A useful resource that was revamped by both CCP and the Office of Health Promotion is the Wellness Toolbox. Over the summer, the two offices decided that it was in need of reviving and could fill a niche that would greatly benefit GU students, so they collaborated and updated it together.
Within the Wellness Toolbox is a variety of different headings such as alcohol and drugs, anxiety, depression, life balance and stress, mindfulness and sleep. Under these categories is a variety of content such as podcasts, apps, videos and interactive activities. For example, under mindfulness there are links to guided meditations and breathing exercises as well as recommended apps to further these exercises. Under anxiety and life balance and stress there are a handful of videos and podcasts and more recommended apps as well.
Joy says that assessing self-care is important to understanding what’s bothering or hindering you the most and coping with it constructively. Some students are home now after being at school all semester, so they have to adjust to being home again, some students have been at home all semester and may feel very stuck or isolated, and other students are still at school, but their friends have since gone home, so the feeling of being alone is new. No matter the student’s situation, self-care is still crucial to one’s well-being and success.
Joy also suggests assessing self-care and looking at it creatively, he asks the question “What’s something that’s new that I can try?”
This could be breathing exercises, making holiday cards or doing a craft. Any of these are productive and can easily become a good outlet for students struggling with anxiety and stress or ones who just want something fun to do during a short break in studying.
“Remember to take time for yourself even when you’re stressed out and feel like you have to do a million things,” Joy said.
Another important takeaway that he wants students to remember is to take breaks even if you have to put reminders in your phone or your calendar. Katie Noble, a staff member of the Office of Health Promotion, also emphasized this idea of scheduling breaks. Not only scheduling breaks but scheduling out study time so that you’re spending equal time on each subject with a big final.
Noble also suggests that students study using the reward system. Research shows that students benefit from a system that is 80% studying with a 20% reward. This reward could be a twenty-minute break and a snack or one episode of something on Netflix before continuing on with studying or a homework assignment. It is also important to set boundaries for these rewards as well, so that students don’t get distracted by an entire season of a show or a whole movie and waste crucial studying time.
She also recommended the “Eat the Frog” technique. This is when you do the most intimidating assignment or the assignment you’re avoiding the most first, so once it’s finished, the hardest thing is out of the way.
This technique is a reinforcement to having a positive mindset about homework because you can tell yourself that all the homework you have left is easier than what you’ve just completed.
Also, this positive attitude is helped by telling yourself good things such as “I can do it,” “I will do well” and “I know I can ace this final,” little phrases of what Noble calls “positive self-talk” are impactful to a student’s success. Research has even proven that students who enter an exam with a positive attitude do better than those who entered with a poor attitude, even if both parties studied the same.
In the end, it all comes down to being mindful, taking breaks, reaching out and doing something you enjoy in order to cope with stressors in one’s life. Take a walk outside, bake something, watch a holiday movie, take a bath or listen to a podcast — the options are endless, so don’t be afraid to set studying aside once in a while and take a deep breath.