5 Mindfulness Tips for the End of the Semester

It’s tough to believe that we are winding down our first semester back in person! It feels like just yesterday that first year students were moving in, the sun was shining down on Locust Walk, and we had an entire semester at our fingertips. As you start to finish up classes, finalize your projects, and get ready for exams, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed (not to mention applying for internships and jobs, traveling over the winter break, and making holiday plans!). Here are five tips to help keep you feeling mindful and grounded these next few weeks:

1. Accept Imperfection

It’s so easy to put immense amounts of pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly. This is especially true within the Penn bubble, where you might feel like everyone around you is getting an internship before you or got a better grade on an exam than you. It is impossible to do everything correctly all of the time, and while it can be hard to let go, it’s important to give yourself some grace. We are all doing the best that we can with what we have, especially during the pandemic!

2. Balance your “Shoulds” with your “Needs”

If you’re like me, you might have a planner where every minute of your day is accounted for, next to a very long to-do list. But how many of those things on that list are things you actually “need” to do, and how many are things that you feel that you “need” to do, but are actually just things you “should” or “could” do? Your needs are important, especially during stressful times. What is it that you truly need to feel supported (like getting enough sleep or eating nutritious meals) and what are some other things that feel important, but aren’t critical (like submitting your 10th internship application that day or taking on another club commitment that isn’t mandatory)?

3. Put a Pause on Social Media

We all know that the majority of what we see on social media is fake (although some of those Instagram filters are looking more and more realistic!). Judging your own reality based on what you see on social media can take a huge toll on your mental health. Try putting a timer on your social media apps to limit the amount of time you spend scrolling each day, or challenge your friends to put your phones face down in the middle of the table while eating dinner.

4. Try a 30-second Mindfulness Trick

Our schedules are always so busy, it can feel hard to find some time to be mindful and use strategies to center us. But we all have 30 seconds, whether that’s on our walk to class, in between job applications, or in the middle of studying! Try the technique linked above to help you focus on your breath and body for 30 seconds.

5. Take Advantage of your Penn Resources

The CAPS website is filled with lots of ideas to help you stay mindful, including guided meditations in multiple languages, links to different websites, and book suggestions. You might have to try a couple of different methods to find one you like best, but give them a try! You never know what might work for you and help you stay present and calm during busy times.

Wishing you the best of luck with the end of classes and final exams!

By Jillian Cener
Jillian Cener Associate Director, Engineering