It’s that point in the semester again. The pages of your agenda are filled with due dates of midterms, papers, and group projects. The amount of hours you sleep dwindles and the cups of coffee you consume skyrocket. You manage to go to your 9 am lecture while running on four hours of sleep and are greeted by your friends. You compare how many hours you slept and one of your friends states he/she pulled an all nighter. The automatic responses such as “Wow, I couldn’t do that!” and “Good for you!” make you second guess closing your textbook and turning off your laptop so you could sleep for a couple of hours before class.
Is this uncommon? No.
Is this unhealthy? Yes.
There is no question that college students glamorize all-nighters as a sign of “dedication to school” and “what separates an A versus a B student”. However, this strain could jeopardize your wellbeing and happiness. It isn’t easy to focus on taking care of your mental health in a culture that describes constant productivity as a measurement of success.
So how can you start to prioritize your mental health over grades?
- Make some “you” time.
Put on your comfiest clothes, shut your door, load up the Netflix, and do what you want to do. Sometimes stepping away from everyone and everything can really help you relax. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing most, do it as much as you need.
- Get out of the house.
In addition to spending some time by yourself, having a change of scenery can be a huge help. Go to a movie, take a walk or run, go for a drive, or take a book to a local coffee shop. The fresh air will do you good!
- Plan in advance.
Think ahead to what days might be more high-stress than others or when you’ll be facing that exam you’re not over-the-moon about and then think through what you can do to get through those times. Think about meditating those mornings or giving yourself a reward to look forward to at the end of the day.
- Be patient with yourself.
With all of the expectations and hustle of this time of year, it can be a lot to take on and think about. Don’t try to do too much yourself. Ask for help when you need it and be realistic about what you can and want to get done in a day.
- Make yourself a priority.
There’s no shame in looking out for #1 (that’s you!). If your routine is what keeps you going typically, try not to lose sight of that during more stressful times. Sleep, eat, exercise, socialize, rest and relax as normally as you can–and don’t be afraid to let others know that it’s what you need.
- Keep in touch with your support network.
You all have heard about texting and the internet, right? Get in there! Text, call, FaceTime, Skype, GChat, send carrier pigeons–just because you’re studying doesn’t mean you need to take a break from your friends. It’s possible they need a helping hand to get through it, too. You can even play games, watch a movie, or debrief your days together.