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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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Yet Found Herself, Keep Looking

You will eventually find her in all the right places, I promise.

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They say you are supposed to go through your awkward transition phase during middle school, but you still feel like you haven't quite figured it out. They say you are supposed to join a club in order to "find yourself", but then you end up sitting in the back watching everyone laugh and catch up. You feel out of place--like you're existing somewhere you just don't belong. Let me be the voice telling you that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now. Every decision you've ever made has led you to this place. This is, of course, much harder to grasp than to just say. Really though, you're doing just fine!

Finding out the things you don't like to do are just important as discovering your passions when it comes to finding your true self. Don't be afraid to join that club, talk to the girl next to you in class, and explore your interests. You might hate it. You might want to run away, but at least you're learning about yourself and where your comfort zone lies. Finding yourself is a life long process, so don't expect an Aha! moment where you have finally hit your destination. Think of it more as a sense of confidence of comfortability in who you are and what you stand for.

Stepping away from friends and family for some time may also lead you to who you are. Often, we grow up and mature only to have the same beliefs, morals, and political opinions as our parents. It's not our fault and we aren't childish, we just trust our parent's judgment and see their conscience as nothing but truth. Part of gaining independence is questioning your own biased beliefs and reevaluating them so they reflect your character better. Same goes with friends. Try to spend a Friday night in with yourself. See what you do. Do you watch a movie? Do you catch up on homework? Do you paint your nails? What is it that makes you feel happy when nobody else is around? By considering the answer to this question, you're one step closer to figuring this whole life thing out.

You may also want to try stepping away from your phone. Your social media (this shouldn't come as a surprise) is giving you the false idea that everyone around you knows exactly what they're doing and enjoys doing it all. Not true. So not true actually, everyone else is struggling to find out just who they are. You and your phone need some distance.

Finding yourself doesn't just happen. You need to explore the world around you and you'll eventually find out where your place is. Be patient with the process and know the right steps will surface when you're ready to take them. Be kind to yourself and have the bravery to discover the girl inside you (I hear she's really cool).

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