Reducing End-of-the-Semester Stress, Nov 2015

We all suffer from stress at the end of the semester, and in the fall that stress is often compounded by the colder weather, reduced exposure to daylight, and ever-looming holidays.  Following these steps may help you to control that stress before it gets out of hand:

  • Make a List—The first step to getting a handle on completing tasks during this busy time of year is to determine just what those tasks are.  Make a list.  Include everything that matters—preparing exams, grading papers, submitting next semester’s textbook order to the bookstore, requesting next semester’s HuskyCT site, etc.
  • Create and Stick to a Schedule—Create a daily calendar that includes ample time for all the tasks on your list, but also add things like shopping, working out, cleaning the house, and spending time with family—whatever you want to accomplish in the next few weeks.  Get started early; do whatever you can do today to relieve stress during the final days of the semester.
  • Limit the Time You Spend on Grading—Determine a reasonable amount of time to spend on grading student work, and stick to that schedule.  If you haven’t already done so, consider using grading rubrics and offering only minimal comments.  In most instances, the grading you do now is summative in nature; thus, adding specific suggestions designed to enhance learning may not be the best use of your time.  For more information on rubrics, see the MAGNA 20-Minute Mentor Video “How can rubrics make grading easier and faster?” and perhaps try creating a rubric using the Rubistar Rubric-Making Software.  You can even imbed rubrics right into your HuslyCT site assignments; see HuskyCT Rubrics for details.
  • Take Care of Yourself—As you work through piles of papers, take short breaks often: get a cup of coffee, take a brisk walk around the block, check in on the soccer game, or try a few yoga moves.  We tend to take less care of ourselves during times of stress, but now is when eating and sleeping well and taking time out for ourselves can really make a difference.  Listen to these Stress Management Audio Downloads or take a look at these Coping Strategies.

If you are concerned that stress is negatively impacting your relationships or work, please consider contacting the Employee Assistance Program or additional resources through Human Resources.

For more information, contact: the Institute for Teaching and Learning at itl@uconn.edu.