It is not just the stress of exams and finals, but the endless possibilities that can result from my performance, causing overwhelming stress to take over my mind and body. While exhilarating and motivating, these uncertainties can translate poorly to one’s mental health, which is why self care is so important to recognize and maintain during this point in the semester.
More than attempting to maintain a social life and good grades, practicing self care during this time is vital, and can be an enjoyable outlet for the stresses in my life.
Here are some stress-relieving tips to keep in your back pocket this spring exam season:
- Spend Time Outside: After long and dreary winters, the sunlight of Spring can be both menacing and relieving. I embrace the warmth in any way I can, even taking assignments onto the quad or to a park. Sometimes doing work inside can make me feel trapped or unmotivated, but there is so much excitement that surrounds me outside that it makes my work that much more enjoyable.
- Find an animal to cuddle with: The power of puppies and kittens is strong, and I know that I take any opportunity I get to play with animals even for a few minutes.
- Take Care of your physical health: While going to the gym or taking an exercise class can relieve plenty of stress, a simple walk around campus or surrounding cities can be just as beneficial to a stressed mind and body. During times of overwhelming stress, I find it best to throw in headphones and just walk with no destination.
- Treat Yourself: After a stressful week, I took a drive with a friend to a nearby supermarket and treated myself to some of my favorite foods. Retail therapy is real, but only in healthy bouts. So during this time, it might be beneficial to buy a swimsuit in preparation for summer, or get nails done to keep a positive aesthetic when writing papers.
- Embrace Laughter: Find a comedy club or open mics to go to and laugh at things other than yourself. Listen to John Mulaney’s comedy special, even. The power of humor is strong, and connects everyone on a human level despite individual stresses.
- Find an enjoyable hobby: Finding an outlet that I can truly lose yourself in is magical; for me I can sit with a puzzle for hours and it takes my mind off of anything I may be stressing over. Writing poems, playing guitar, engaging in video games that bring people joy are all potential activities to reduce stress and act as reminders that there is more to life than just exams and grades.
- Practice healthy media use: Social media will be there when exams are over, so it’s perfectly ok to limit oneself and prioritize ourselves. Rather than opening instagram or snapchat, find a new TV show to watch that can be used to break up studying. Springtime for me is defined by the lineup of shows for the season, and following a schedule of showtimes rather than a schedule of exams is almost therapeutic for me.
- Find New Music: Music adds a level of distraction unmet by any other method of self care. A good playlist can inspire me and invoke motivation like that found in movies. More than this, music can relieve the mind of stress through mesmerizing lyrics and chords.
- Schedule time for sleep: Although the sun goes down at later hours in the Spring, I owe it to myself to maintain a routine sleep schedule. I always remind myself that whatever is stopping me from going to sleep will, like social media, be on my mind the next day, so I might as well give myself a little break from it while I can.
- Bake a cake… or four: Stress baking is real, and it makes sense. Not only does it require precise, methodical activity for the body and mind, but there is something so cathartic about cracking eggs and watching the ingredients mix into one. When the stress takes over, the cakes will be there to consume and share with others who are probably going through the same things.