As winter break approaches, students should keep in mind some good tips on how to handle end of semester stresses in addition to going home for break.

University of Wisconsin Associate Dean of Students Kevin Helmkamp said preparing ahead of time for finals is important.

“Planning out a study schedule for finals is very helpful. Get more than enough sleep, eat well and don’t fall into unhealthy habits while studying for finals,” Helmkamp said.

He added that cramming right before an exam or studying for 24 hours straight are not healthy study habits and not helpful for retaining information.

Before leaving for break, students should make sure to lock all doors and windows of an apartment or dorm room, according to a UW statement on preventing theft

The statement also warns that burglars frequently steal cash, laptops, bikes, jewelry, video game consoles, stereos and televisions that are left out in plain sight in apartments and dorms.

To ensure valuables are kept safe, record serial numbers of all valuable items before leaving campus. Thieves are less likely to steal items that can be identified by their original owner, according to the statement.

It is common for students to kick-back and celebrate the holidays and the end of finals with a drink or two, but UW officials stress the importance of safety at and away from home. Students should exercise caution about drinking over winter break.

“Don’t drink and drive, especially in poor winter weather conditions,” Helmkamp said.

But driving is not the only time students should be on guard. He also advised that students who walk to bars travel in large groups to avoid getting hurt in bad weather and to ensure everyone gets home safely.

“Moderation is key. Make good decisions, be wise and definitely factor in the weather conditions when going out,” Helmkamp said.

UHS Executive Director Sarah Van Orman also offered healthy tips for students returning home for winter break.

She explained that while many people become very tired and worn-out towards the end of the semester, winter break is a good time for students to put in place some new healthy habits, like starting a new exercise program or catching up on lost sleep.

“It’s important for students to stay on a schedule during break because it’s easy to fall into bad sleeping or eating habits while away from school,” Van Orman said.

She also added it’s important for students to maintain social connections while away from school. Many students return home and feel lonely without their friends constantly around.

Students also need to realize that going home can be difficult because it often feels very different than when they left, Van Orman said.

Van Orman said students must acknowledge that when they left, life at home continued without them and it might be difficult to adjust to the changed family ensemble.

She added it might be a good idea to take advantage of all the free time over break and focus on maintaining good health.

“Also, visit your doctor when you are home too. Getting a check-up to ensure you’re in good health is important,” Van Orman added.