Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chewing on My Pencil

I read a recent post by University Mama. She says that October/November is the most stressful time of the semester. I have to agree. Once we get past mid-terms, it seems as if the professors realize they have less than six weeks to cover the rest of their material and they start pouring on the exams and papers.

That leads to only one thing - stress = chewed pencils, frazzled hair, and dark circles under my eyes. Poor UM sounded like she needed a vacation.

I think that mid to late semester during the fall is more stressful than mid to late semester during the spring because of the holidays. The only holiday one has to worry about in the spring is Easter. We also get a week-long break during the spring semester known as "Spring Break".

We know that this happens - mid-terms and the holidays - and it increases our stress factor. How do we deal with the added stress of the holidays in the midst of mid-terms and the end of the semester? Try these:

1. Laugh. It is often said that in the midst of stress, if you cannot laugh, you will cry. Laughter is much better for you. Find that place of laughter and laugh until your sides ache.
2. Take a day off. It doesn't matter if it is a weekend day or some day during the week. Use that day as a mini-retreat and do something fun. Do some Christmas shopping or buy a new Thanksgiving tablecloth. Do something that will decrease your holiday stress load.
3. Be proactive. Instead of waiting until the last minute to do holiday things (shopping, menu planning, etc.), take small chunks of time and work toward whittling down that holiday "To-Do" list. Plan ahead.
4. Recruit your family. Do you make a holiday centerpiece? Let your spouse or one of the children do it this year. Leave the holiday decorating to your children (if they are old enough). The decorating may not turn out the way you would do it, but does it really matter? You are giving your family a chance to develop their talents!
5. Communicate your expectations. Tell your family this is crunch time for you and you need some extra time to yourself to concentrate on school. They will have to do without you for a while. But make sure you tell them how much you love and appreciate their help.

Most of all, take a deep breath and say, "This, too, shall pass." Don't sweat the details. If it doesn't get done, maybe it wasn't that important to begin with. Give yourself grace. And get a new pencil. Stay tuned . . .

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