Two more weeks

As you dig through a months worth of dirty laundry that carpets your floor, you decide you donâÄôt have time to locate your other mitten. You shove your hands into your coat pockets and rush out into the shivery pale world. You pause, noticing that it sounds familiarly quiet. The wintry cheer reminds you of last year, when you stayed up every other night, studying. You wished you had kept up during the semester. You have vivid memories of your parentsâÄô couch, crackers and soup during your holiday pneumonia recovery. You vowed to never pull an all-nighter again. The neighbor kidâÄôs full body snowsuit soon induces the feeling of regurgitation as quickly as it had provoked the onset of nostalgia. The sound of jingling bells at the store shrieks in your ears. As you face the next two weeks, you are aware that your stability is as fragile as a poorly crafted snowman. One intricate flake lands on your cheek, melting instantly. The neighbor kid punches his snowman, sending its head into a clump on the sidewalk. You swallow. You will get through this. Luckily, the conclusion of finals will bring the relief and joy of winter break. However, as jolly as a month of Alvin and the Chipmunks can be, these next two weeks will effect more than your GPA. How you manage your finals and prepare for the holidays will affect everything from your diet to your sleep, your health, your credit card, your hygiene and your social life. During stressful times, it is easy to let your routine habits slide. As unimportant as it may seem, keeping your living space tidy, continuing to do your laundry, showering regularly, getting at least seven hours of sleep and sticking to a stable diet will greatly reduce your stress level and allow you to be more productive. If you find yourself getting distracted easily, antsy to finish, or ready to give up, try studying in an environment that is free from outside noise, like a library, or a quiet coffee shop. DonâÄôt study in front of the TV. Turn off Facebook alerts for a week. Make time to exercise. It can also be daunting when you are faced with four or five large projects, papers or tests, so make a schedule. Plan when you will study for each class. DonâÄôt try to do them all at once. Be realistic with your time. Make an outline of what you need to get done. Break it down to the hour. This will help you avoid the all-nighter. As efficient as it seems to cram everything into one night, your body will pay for it later and your memory will be functioning on low. Keep your social life contained and relatively low-key. You will have the next month to let loose, but right now, the most important thing for you is your studies. DonâÄôt let your grades or your health slip because of poor planning. If money is stressing you out during the holiday season, donâÄôt forget to return your books. YouâÄôll get a little pocket cash. Also, check Amazon for good deals on used items for gift ideas. Go to the Goodwill. Make cards. Buy used books. You can be meaningful and save money at the same time. The holidays will be here soon enough, but try to stay focused on what is important immediately âÄî your mental health and your studies. As the neighbor kid is about to stomp on the snowman head, you reach down and lift it from the sidewalk. You explain the chemical composition of snow to him and the physics of gravity. You tell him you are heading to the library. He skips beside you on your way to the bus. Demonstrating the gravity of snowballs. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected]