The Justice editorial board commends the University community for persevering through another challenging semester characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate the work that staff and faculty have put into helping the community transition to mostly normal operations, and congratulate students — many of whom came to campus for the first time this August — on their perseverance. With finals season rapidly approaching, we wanted to take a moment to share some of our tips for navigating this particularly stressful few weeks and the break that follows.

First, this board believes that it is important to acknowledge that the pandemic rages on, as does its effects on us as people and students. Readjusting to in-person classes and packed pre-pandemic extracurricular schedules has been incredibly draining, as has living these past  months with the fear of you or someone you know getting sick. Everyone should be proud of what they have accomplished during these — dare we say — unprecedented times, even if you feel that you are not performing at your pre-pandemic level. It is more important than ever not to compare oneself to others, and to be gracious and patient with yourself. Whatever the result of the semester, you have something to be proud of.

We cannot recommend strongly enough that, during finals period, you maintain your routine as much as possible — consistency is key in feeling grounded. Ensure that you are getting plenty of sleep  and limit your intake of caffeine. Continue to eat multiple balanced meals a day. Exercise when and how you can — a walk around campus is a low-impact way to get blood flowing and clear your mind. While it may seem counter-intuitive, take breaks to give your mind a rest and allow yourself some fun — meals with friends can be a great opportunity to socialize and step away from studying for a time. Breaking up large projects into smaller tasks and rewarding yourself for completing each step is also a great way to manage assignments, with the most important step being to start. Additionally, various campus organizations host stressbuster activities and fun events during these next few weeks, including the library  — attend some! 

The board also recognizes that the break period following finals can be an even more challenging time for some. Although the majority of students leave for the winter, a large number remain on a campus that looks little like we are accustomed to. For those staying here, we recommend getting to know your new neighbors in Winter Break Housing, taking advantage of the programming put on by campus organizations and enjoying the events that Waltham and surrounding communities have to offer. For those whose situations worsen after leaving campus, we suggest staying connected with friends and support systems through regular and intentional communication. 

We wish everyone as painless and stress-free a finals period as possible, a restful break and happy holidays!