It’s not just a saying, a joke, or a phrase to justify your fourth cupcake of the day. It’s incredibly important to treat yourself, to take care of yourself, and to only hold yourself to a standard that is healthy and productive, but not push yourself over the edge. Being honest with yourself and being kind to your body and mind are infinitely important, and are often pushed to the back-burner in college. Whether it’s work your professor assigned last minute, or your group not putting in their portion of work, or maybe even your boss scheduling you too many shifts over the weekend, it’s your job to tell people when you’ve had enough. It’s your job to know your limits, and push yourself without putting your own well-being in harm’s way, and it’s incredibly important to make sure you give yourself breaks to recharge.
But how do you even do that? How are you supposed to take a break when you have 2 midterms, 3 papers, and one project due all next week? When do you find the time?
There’s a difference between taking a break and slacking off. Taking a break and putting yourself first means letting your brain recharge, allowing you to be more productive and happy in the long run.
First and foremost, the best thing you can do for yourself is sleep. Although this may be something that you’ve heard non stop from your parents, professors, friends, and anyone who has been through school themselves, often times sleep is the first thing to be neglected. Sleep makes you productive, happy, and motivated, and it lets you come up with ideas that actually may save you time in the long run. When you’re rested, you’re more efficient and more invested in everything around you, and you will ultimately feel more in control over what you put your time into.
After sleep, exercise and healthy food are both key to a happier, more productive life. However, I’m sure you’ve heard all of that a thousand times before. I’m not here to tell you the same things over and over, so take sleep, exercise, and healthy eating as a given. What else can you do for yourself? Here are 5 ways to de-stress during the middle of the semester, not taking too much time, but giving you the rest you need to realistically be more motivated later on.
- Write lists.
Ok, maybe this isn’t a way to forget about everything you have to do, but it helps you visualize your time. I make lists for everything, and even if I don’t stick to every part of it, it always helps me to write out everything I have to do, use a calendar, and check off boxes after each completed task. That way, you stop thinking about everything you have to do all at once, and you start thinking about the step-by-step progress you’re making instead.
- Reward yourself.
Yes! Treat yo-self! Don’t make this frequent enough where your incentive loses value, but when looking at your calendar at a tough week ahead, reserve time for yourself at the end of it to take a daytime nap, eat out at your favorite restaurant, or binge-watch your favorite tv show all weekend. Whatever your version of a treat may be, create a reward for your hard work and dedication: if you want others to appreciate the work you do, you have to appreciate yourself too.
- Take a warm shower!
Warm showers are naturally therapeutic! Take some time to not only prioritize your own hygiene, but give yourself some personal time to think and reflect, sing in the shower, or just wash away all the bad feelings of that day. Showering helps you start over, relax for a little bit, and come out fresh and ready to take on the rest of your work!
- Call your parents.
Yup. You heard me. Remember how mom has been texting you about how you never answer her texts on time? Give her a call! Tell them all about why you’re stressed, tell them what you have going on, and just keep that support system open. When things get tough, your parents are always there for you, so use them as a resource! They’re smarter than you gave them credit for when you were 13 and angsty, so see if they have some good insight. If anything else, it’s always nice to have someone there to talk to who will love you unconditionally and root for your success no matter what.
- Get out!
Take a walk, ride your bike, or just sit on a bench outside. Fresh air, regardless of whether it is rainy or sunny, is good for your body and your mind. Staying cooped up in the classroom and heading straight back to the computer after getting home never helps. Stimulate your senses, explore a little bit, and take time to see all of the things around you in nature that you forget about on a daily basis. If anything, you can learn to appreciate your surroundings a bit more than usual, and feel happier as a result!
School is tough, and life will never get easier, but it’s all about how you deal with your stress. There are certainly ways to be happy and productive while maintaining only a healthy level of stress in your life, and there are ways to prioritize yourself while still excelling at work, school, and your social life. Mental health and self-care are an eternal battle, but loving yourself always comes first, and the rest will naturally follow.