Joe P: Overcoming burnout at the end of the semester

Best ways to overcome end-of-semester burnout

In an academic year leaving many students to feel in the dark, there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t know for sure when the pandemic will be over with, but with just a few weeks left in the semester, an academic year as mentally taxing and demanding as ever is nearly complete.

With summer on the horizon, it’s easy to get distracted thinking about what the next few months have in store. If you’re reaching your breaking point and need to stay productive through the next few weeks, here are some tips:

  1. Plan each day out in advance, especially on lightly scheduled days

On weekends or days with a light class schedule, I find myself getting caught up in all my free time that my productivity goes out the window. It’s much easier to stay on track by blocking off different times each day to accomplish anything I may need to, while also setting aside time to relax.

It’s a simple concept, and easier said than done. It’s ultimately up to you to stay disciplined to the time commitments you set for yourself. I’ve found that committing to zone in for an hour on a given task produces much better results than just saying, “Yeah, I’ll get to it at some point within the next eight hours.”

  1. Find a study partner

If you’re the type of person who needs someone else to hold you accountable, find a classmate/friend to keep you focused. It may be tricky to find someone to work with in-person during these times, but even setting up a Zoom meeting can be sufficient.

Getting another person to talk concepts out or go over a study guide with is a great way to engage with the material instead of just staring at a semester’s worth of slides. It’s much easier to get through these last few weeks with help rather than facing it by yourself.

  1. Improve your eating/sleeping habits, at least temporarily

I could live on pizza and burgers if I needed to, but in times where energy and concentration need to be at an all time high, taking better care of yourself physically will pay dividends for you mentally. Get ahead of the all-nighters during finals week by fueling up with extra sleep now, and attack all the main food groups at the dining hall to keep you feeling energized enough to get through a productive study session.

You can get back to the daily trips to Cane’s and video games till 3 am once summer hits. For at least these next few weeks, try to switch things up and help fend off burnout.

These are just a few general tips to help you get started. There’s obviously more that can be done, and what I listed may help some more than others. What matters most is setting yourself up for a final burst across the finish line, rather than a slow crawl.

Joe: Virtual Games You Can Play During Thanksgiving Weekend

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Thanksgiving is all about great food and taking time to appreciate the good things in life while surrounded by family and friends. There’s still room for all of that this year, but chances are you won’t be surrounded by as many people.

Many families like to play games during the holiday, whether it’s football in the backyard or a card game in the living room, and while the pandemic will put a damper on this holiday season, there’s still an opportunity to have some fun with friends and family.

Of course, depending on who you’re spending Thanksgiving with, some of the close-proximity games may not be the best idea, but luckily there are several variations of classic games that you can play over Zoom. If you won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with the people you usually celebrate with, this can allow you to at least keep some sense of normalcy.

In any case, here are a few games to get you started:

Uno

Starting off with a classic, Uno is a great source of fun and frustration, and the best part is it’s one of the more versatile games to play virtually. iPhone users can play each other in a knock-off version through GamePigeon, but there are also apps that allow you to play with anyone locally or online. 

It’s an easy game that practically everyone already knows how to play, and you can play with anyone who owns a phone. Maybe parents won’t like the idea of everyone staring at their phones during the holiday, but it’s a strong option you can’t really go wrong with.

Pictionary

Another party classic, Pictionary is an easy game that anyone can play. Not everyone owns a dry-erase board and markers, but by using Skribbl.io online for free, you can start a private game where anyone with the link can join. Set up a game, log on to Zoom, and suddenly you and your friends are having fun roasting each other’s artistic ability (or lack thereof). 

Cards Against Humanity

Be careful who you play this with; you may get into some uncomfortable situations. With the right group of people, though, it can turn into the highlight of your night. This popular card game is loaded with dark, adult humor, and you can play the game online for free.

There are several websites you can find with a simple Google search, but one that I like to use is called “All Bad Cards.” This allows you to set the game rules the way your group wants, and is pretty easy to operate.

Much like Pictionary, you can create a game, send your friends/family the link and hop on Zoom to play with those who are not with you in-person. It’s the perfect game for anyone who’s graduated from the kids’ table.

Get creative

If you don’t feel like playing any of the games above, there are plenty of other options to go for, as long as you can think of ways to play virtually. Games like Charades and Celebrity don’t require many materials in order to play, so it’s easy to sort out how to play over Zoom. Some rules may need to be tweaked to play other games virtually, but as long as it’s still fun, that’s all that matters.

No matter how you spend Thanksgiving weekend, the most important thing is to be able to safely relax and spend time with the people you’re celebrating with even if it has to be online.

Joe: Looking to explore the city? Check out the Freedom Trail

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Anytime students head off-campus, the Boston Common, Newbury Street and Fenway Park are all popular destinations. However, if you’re interested in learning more about the city’s past, in addition to how it is today, grab some friends and spend a couple hours walking along the city’s Freedom Trail.

Starting in the Boston Common (between the Boylston and Park Street T stops), the 2.5-mile trail loops through 16 historical stops in downtown Boston, ending all the way up at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.

Amongst the stops along the way are the Massachusetts State House, the site of the Boston Massacre and the Paul Revere House. In a city so important to America’s establishment, the trail serves as a fantastic opportunity to walk through history. 

Not a history buff? The trail brings you straight through the heart of downtown, so you can enjoy the contemporary sights of the city as you take in the fresh air. The back half of the trail takes you through some beautiful neighborhoods in the North End, and plenty of restaurants that serve delicious food and provide an incredible atmosphere if you’re looking to make a stop along the way. Or you could just grab Chipotle that stands on the site of the Old Corner Bookstore, if that better fits your style (or budget).

Another cool part of the trail is toward the tail end. To get to the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument, you cross the North Washington Street bridge. With East Boston on one side and TD Garden and the Charles River to the other, you can get stellar views of a different part of the city. If you’re a photographer looking for a new spot to take photos, this part of the trail is calling your name.

And really, any part of the trail has great photo opportunities. Whether it’s the bustling squares surrounding Faneuil Hall or the cozy brick neighborhoods in the North End, there are countless places that you can document forever.

With the usual weather in Boston, it’s important to take advantage of the nicer days. The next time we get some nice weather, and you and your friends have a few hours to kill, try taking a walk down the Freedom Trail to learn more about this great city we live in.