Finals Season Self-Care

Finals Season Self-Care

For those of you who haven’t lived in Syracuse for the past 5 years, congrats: it looks like you’ll be able to go a whole semester here without seeing snow! Though I’m sure the weather isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, as finals are looming in the very near future. This will most likely be a common theme for blogs this month, so as everyone prepares for tests and papers and projects, I wanted to share some finals season self-care tips for people to utilize. Especially since over a third of college students suffer from some level of depression (myself included), and taking care of yourself is sometimes one of the few things that can help get you out of a rut. Like many people, I don’t always follow my own advice, but when I do I find that my mood and productivity can dramatically increase. I hope that you find that these tips help you too.


Taking the first step is the first step
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part about doing an assignment. You open Word or Illustrator or your class notes, but you just physically can’t do your work. It’s the hardest obstacle to get over, but making that first move can put you in the right momentum for the next few hours of work. Try to minimize distractions so that you can stay in the working mindset for as long as possible.


Try to regulate your sleeping habits
I personally am terrible at this, and I think many college students are. However, trying to get on a regular sleep schedule with minimal napping is the first step in being able to tackle your finals. It’s impossible to get anything done if the only thing your brain can focus on is when you get to sleep next. In order to make sure you’re getting restful sleep, take advantage of time during the day to study or work on your projects so you aren’t up until all hours of the night, and only lay in your bed if you’re actually going to sleep for the night. Working in bed is comfortable, but it’s very easy to fall asleep and wake up completely disoriented at 3am. Do your work until you’re tired, have some tea, and go to bed.


Try not to let your diet go crazy
Along with sleep, having a regular diet is key in making sure your body is physically able to get work done. Some people can’t manage to eat anything when they’re stressed, others can’t manage to stop eating when they’re stressed (I am the latter). If you’re someone who struggles with getting enough food during stressful times, consider getting some nutrients through smoothies or shakes. It can be much easier to drink than eat solid food if the anxiety has gotten to your stomach, and smoothies are a good way to get in a lot of fruits and vegetables which will keep you healthy during crunch time. For people who stress-eat, it’s helpful to either clean out your pantry of snacks, or keep only healthy snacks (fruits and veggies are great snacks) in the house. Eating while working can help calm nerves, and if it’s too hard to break the habit, you can at least make sure you aren’t making yourself sick with chips and chocolate.


Schedule out each day
This is especially true for days you don’t have class. I have Fridays off, and if I don’t set a work schedule for myself suddenly 10pm rolls around and I’ve sat with the same blank Word document open the whole day. To make sure you’re using your time efficiently, make a detailed list of tasks that need to be done for the day and allot a set time for each of them. Include things like breaks and meals. Seeing what you have to do listed out in front of you makes it much easier to prioritize your tasks and ensures that you won’t forget to do anything.


Get out of the house
Weekends are prime time for long work days, but it’s also very easy to get trapped in the same spot for 48 hours, sitting hunched over the computer. If you’re feeling stir-crazy or you’ve been reading the same sentence over and over again, consider taking a break to go out and get some fresh air. This will not only help to clear your mind and get your blood circulating, but it will allow you to get back to your work with fresh eyes. It’s easy to get too involved with something and feel lost, and so a break from looking at it can help you to refocus.


Allow yourself to do things you enjoy
If you enjoy reading, or Netflix, or going to the gym, let yourself do these things. You can enjoy these activities as a way to decompress before you start your work, or you can use it as a way to treat yourself after you complete your work. Denying yourself small pleasures will only further the finals blues, and being able to look forward to something can help keep your energy up when you need it most. It’s hard to do much of anything if you’re always down, so make the effort to do things that will help bring you up.


Make sure you’re taking regular showers
This one may seem obvious, but I spent 5 years in a major where many people decided to forgo showering so as not to interrupt the flow of their work (the computer lab in Slocum is probably rank right about now). For people with depression, keeping up with hygiene can be especially difficult, as those simple tasks start to become major burdens. Taking a shower is a good way to give yourself a break from work, and also helps you to rejuvenate and refocus yourself.


Don’t let your house get trashed
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. It’s easy to let your garbage cans and laundry baskets overflow, but not only is it just gross, it can really affect your mood and working ability. Coming home after a long day of class and work to a sink full of dishes is extremely disheartening, so take the time to keep your house clean so you have one less thing to worry about when you’re trying to get your work done.


Keep everything in perspective
By December 18th you’re going to be done with all your finals and projects. One way or another, it will happen, and life will continue on. It’s easy to let everything overwhelm you and feel constant dread, but just remember that you will get through these next 2 weeks, and by the time you graduate and find a job, this will all be a thing of the past. Work hard and get done what you have to get done, but don’t let it ruin your physical and mental health. You can do this!

Alexandra Mantzoros
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