10 Ways To Practice Self-Care During Finals Week

10 Ways To Practice Self-Care During Finals Week

Make Yourself A Priority
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Thanksgiving has ended, and the holiday season has begun. But with the wintery cheer comes the wintery fear: final exams. It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of studying and forget about all the other aspects of your life. But if there's one thing you shouldn't neglect during finals week other than work, it's YOU. I know we all care about our grades, but our bodies are more important, and it's important to remind ourselves of that. Make yourself a priority... and that's where self-care comes in. This list is by no means comprehensive,—self-care comes in so many forms, and there's really no wrong way to do it—but included are 10 ways I intend to practice self-care during and leading up to finals week.

1. Get Enough (or Close to Enough) Sleep

I know I know. Cliché. Seemingly-impossible. It's so easy to get wrapped up in studying (or procrastinating) that before you know it it's 5am, and you give up on sleep for the night completely. Instead of using those precious hours between 2am and 8am to cram in more studying that you won't likely remember, or watching yet another episode of that show, spend them snuggled up in bed under your favorite blanket. Those hours of shut-eye will help you more on you exam than any last-minute cramming probably will, and certainly more than Netflix will.
BONUS TIP: Naps are good too! Science says the "perfect nap" is 26 minutes long, and will help increase alertness. If you're continually dozing off while going over your readings, you're better off just lying down for a bit anyway, and then getting back to it.

2. Eat Brain Food...

Nourish your mind along with your body. Whole grains, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, pumpkin seeds, beans, leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, red peppers, blueberries, black currents, sage, olive oil... the list is endless, and certainly not bland or boring! And when oatmeal is as easy as ramen, it isn't too difficult either.

3. ...But also Eat Comfort Food

Studying can feel hellish as it is, but not rewarding yourself after a long session in the library is downright evil. Nourishing your soul is just as important as nourishing your body and mind, and sometimes that comes in the form of pizza, french fries, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fancy holiday drinks, or whatever dessert the dining hall happens to have on hand. Indulge a little, and don't beat yourself up for it, especially if you're eating a lot of that aforementioned brain food as well. It is the holidays after all!
BONUS TIP: Looking for a compromise between brain food and comfort food? Dark chocolate's got you covered!

4. Drink Lots of Liquids

I'm talking about water and de-caf tea, and other low-sugar, low-calorie, low-caffeine options. I know we all need a few of those kinds of drinks to keep us going too, but staying hydrated with lots of water is so important all the time, and especially when our minds and bodies are on overdrive. Always seem to forget to drink enough water? Keep a refillable water bottle out and with you at all times to remind yourself to stay hydrated!

5. Exercise or Get Some Fresh Air

Give your mind a quick break and get the rest of you moving. Hit up the school gym, or if that's not your thing, just get outside for a quick walk, hike, jog, or bike ride. It will produce endorphins in your body which will make you feel happier, help keep you awake if all those readings are making you drowsy, and give you a productive reason to take a break. Plus, who doesn't feel better after a breath of crisp December air?!

6. Shower!

It's an easy thing to push aside when you're swamped with studying, living in sweatpants, and not seeing much of anyone, but general hygiene is self-care too. You'll feel much better doing pretty much anything if your hair is clean and your body smells good. You can spare 15 minutes to relax in the hot water and not think about anything, I promise. Put on a couple of your favorite songs while you're at it! You'll feel much more refreshed and relaxed afterwards, and much more inclined to get back to work.

7. Get Some Much-Needed Human Interaction

When you're cooped up in your room all day in sweats, up to your neck in textbooks, readings, and notes, it can be hard to even think about hanging out with friends or going out. But even though everyone has so much to do, interaction with fellow human beings is so important! It can be quick and simple activities — ask a friend to get a meal with you in the dining hall, take a quick coffee break with someone, find a buddy to go on a walk with. If all else fails, even just hearing another voice can be helpful — call your mom, dad, grandparent, sibling, best friend, or anyone else whose voice makes you smile, and just chat for a few minutes. It's always relieving to remember you have people who love and support you, no matter what your exam grades are.

8. Take Breaks to do Things You Love

You're super busy during the semester, but you still find time to join groups or clubs, or otherwise do what you love. Don't let finals week be an exception! Whether it's playing an instrument, folding origami, baking, dancing, or whatever else, take some time to do that thing. Personally I like writing and reading for pleasure, and even though I'll be doing plenty of writing and reading during finals week, I know it's important for me to find time to sit down and write about what I want to write about, or curl up with a "Harry Potter" book for a few chapters. Finding time for what you love is always important, no matter how hectic studying gets.

9. Find Time for Yourself

"Me time" can be one of the hardest things to come by in college. At home, you could escape to your room, or even to the bathroom, but in college nothing seems private anymore. There always seems to be other people around. Make it a point to find time where you can be alone and with yourself during finals week, even if you're doing work during this time too. If you can, work out something with your roommate so you each have a little time alone in the room. If that's not possible, find a hiding spot in the library or somewhere else on campus, or escape off campus to a café or a bookstore, or somewhere else you can feel comfortably alone. And if you just can't seem to find the space and privacy you need, do the best you can, and bring along headphones. Sometimes listening to music alone, even if you're in the most crowded place, can make you feel like the only person in the room.

10. Don't Neglect Your Regular Self-Care Regimen

These are all good ideas for self-care, but no one knows you better than you do, which means you probably have a self-care routine tailored exactly to your needs. When you have so much else going on, it can be easy to push it off until later, and then never actually get to it. Schedule time in each of your days, no matter how busy, to take care of yourself. There is only one you, and nothing—not even final exams—is worth compromising your body over.

Now good luck on your exams, and don't forget to keep making yourself a priority!

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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I Tried To Lose Weight All My Life But Couldn't Shed The Pounds Until I Turned To God

Now it's easier than ever and I'm never looking back.

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It's amazing how good it feels to get rid of something that has felt like such a tall barrier in your life for so long. For years, and years, honestly, as many years as I can remember, I have felt held back by my weight. It's something that never truly left my mind, whether it was how I looked in my school uniform skort compared to other girls, how I looked in pictures, the thoughts that raced through my head lying in bed that night, or if what I ordered off the menu would make me look fat. It was always something.

Now I have tried, or so I thought I had. I had tried giving up carbs for two weeks, doing workout videos, or eating healthy, occasionally running, or honestly, anything I thought might help a bit. But there I was after a full year of college, heavier than ever.

It was then that I found my secret ingredient, it was then that I found the ultimate weight-loss secret: Prayer.

I found myself amidst a challenge that I didn't know if I was mentally strong enough to handle, faced against temptations of my wildest food dreams. Canes, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, oh my!

I had never thought once about offering up my prayers to God when it came to my weight. I'm not sure why, honestly. It was something that I had struggled with for so long, that it almost felt normal.

Now, when I feel tempted I ask myself a lot if this is the "abundantly more" that God promises us. If it isn't, then I don't pick it. Strength is a process, just like endurance or habits.

I have learned that by offering up the comparisons I feel at the gym, listening to podcasts while running, or Jesus music while practically swimming in my sweat, I am motivated to keep going, not dragged down by the progress I haven't made. I have learned to thank God for the journey He has taken me on so far, and for giving me the capability to overcome these hurdles.

Jesus Didn't die on the cross and tell us to get our butts out there and make disciples of all the nations just for us to sit and be upset with ourselves and compare ourselves to those tiny pictures on our screens. Let's go, we don't have time for that. We have work to do.

No, I'm not saying that if you pray for Jesus to make you lose 15 pounds, the weight will fall off, but I am saying that through Christ, all things are possible, and with Him by my side, the running doesn't feel as difficult.

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Why Being Diagnosed With PCOS Was Awesome For Me

I mean it. It is the BEST thing that has happened to me so far.

ManviU
ManviU
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Yes, you read it correctly. There are no typos.

I am extremely glad I have PCOS.

First, a little background on PCOS. It is known as Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS for short. It is a hormonal disorder that can occur in women of reproductive age. It can be due to excess of male hormone in females, excess insulin or genetic carryover from parents.

It causes irregular periods, obesity, facial hair, acne, male patterned baldness and enlarged ovaries that contains small, immature follicles that surround it.

To put it in simpler words, It makes your ovaries big, with tiny structures stuck to the outside of it that can become cysts and if untreated, it leads to infertility in women, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic syndromes. The trickiest part of this illness is that it has no definite diagnosis and no cure. It is a chronic illness one has to learn to live by making lifestyle changes and medication for it just trial an error as PCOS is different for everyone.

So how did I end up with it?

Well, for the better part, hell, for my entire life, I'd always struggled with my weight. To this day I don't have a constant weight as it always constantly increased no matter what I did. Diets cleanse, gym, aerobics, swimming, badminton, I have done it all. It's not because I wanted to fit in the mold that society created for women and how they are supposed to look but because I have an enormous amount of genetic disorders in my family which started with obesity.

So, as a result, my parents were always very critical about my weight, as they lived in fear that I might also get plagued with all the disease that my family has in its history. I would get yearly blood tests to check if I showed any early symptom of any diseases but it came back normal year after year.

I was thrilled but very frustrated as I could feel there was something wrong with me but I didn't know what.

The more normal my blood report was, the madder I was. Honestly, if I had low hemoglobin, I would have been happier but nothing. My blood reported I was healthy as a horse but I felt sicker as each day passed, Sick of my weight, sick of being blamed for eating a lot, sick of the society deeming me as unfit and unhealthy.

I WAS SICK OF EVERYTHING!

One day, after getting my yet another blood report, I went to my family physician. He was like 'Everything seems fine, what's the problem?' I sighed and said my weight gain in a small voice as I was embarrassed by it. He suggested me to go for an ultrasound as PCOS was getting extremely common in women and weight gain is a symptom and cause of this disease.

I agreed halfheartedly as I hate shooting arrows in the dark but it was the best option I had.

I went home and spent the entire night before my ultrasound on the internet, trying to educate myself on PCOS. Everything that was consistent among multiple articles was its symptoms, like acne, facial hair, masculine features, irregular periods and obesity. The only one that I could correlate to myself was obesity and no other symptoms.

Hence, I concluded that I can't have PCOS and went to bed frustrated as the mystery of my weight gain yet again became a mystery.

Fast forward to the end of my ultrasound, the technician goes like 'Yeah, you have PCOS'.

My brain was like what? how? where? when? seriously? and then finally it went to feeling doomed as I knew this had no cure. I was ready to bombard her with a question but before I could she told me to see a gynecologist, handed me the report and made me leave before I was ready to.

I went to see a gynecologist and she seemed so calm that it just made me madder. I was screaming inside my head like 'Women! I have PCOS! STOP SMILING! I AM DOOMED FOR LIFE'. I thought I would have to go through multiple rounds of hormone therapy that would fuck my body up and it would take me a year to recover and get better but she just gave me 2 oral medication to take for 3 months, scheduled a follow-up appointment and bid me adieu.

So, here I am writing this article 3 months later and funnily enough celebrating the fact that I have PCOS :)

It was extremely hard to get to this point where I was comfortable talking about it. I went through 7 stages of grief to accept that this is something I would have to live with for the rest of my life. But finally, I have an answer to my always echoing question 'What is wrong with me' which was the most comforting thing ever as I could stop blaming and demoralizing myself. And I didn't need to be helpless anymore towards my body.

As time passed, my medication worked miracles, I lost weight, my mental health became better, I felt healthier and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gladly, I caught it early and I wouldn't need medication forever to maintain it.

The best thing this short journey has taught me is to love myself, in sickness or health. Also, I don't have to blame myself for something I couldn't control in the first place and I don't have to be ashamed about PCOS as it is naturally occurring and doesn't make me any less healthy, happy or human. Yes, it does make life a little complicated but going through the motions in life can get so boring.

You can't control everything in life, so you shouldn't blame yourself for everything as well. Love yourself unconditionally!

ManviU
ManviU

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