With the second semester in full swing, many students are already feeling weighed down by the stress of classes and workloads. A lot of the healthy resolutions from the new year, such as “take more time to myself” or “get more sleep” have already gone down the drain. The fashionable first week of school wardrobe is still in students’ dirty hampers, and replaced by a hoodies and tied-back hair.
I like to compare a college semester to the 400-meter race in track. For those of you who don’t know, the 400-meter is a race around the distance of the track once, and requires you to practically sprint the entire way. It is excruciating. The college semester is quite similar; it seems like one never-ending, painful sprint to keep up with everything, and then it is over in the blink of an eye.
When it is all over, you might look back and think, “oh, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”, but we all know that when you are in the middle of the semester, it can seem unbearable.
Although it might seem like a person must sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears to make it through the semester successfully, it is vital to be mindful of your own mental and physical health along the way.
To make sure that you don’t completely lose your head this semester, practice these strategies.
1. Have a “calm space.”
Designate a specific area of your dorm/apartment/house as a place where you can sit and escape for a while. Pick somewhere other than your bed, even if it’s just a pillow on the floor in the corner. Keep your favorite scented candle there and a notebook where you can record your feelings. Don’t forget a fuzzy blanket!
2. Know what activities calm you down.
Know what activities help when you are feeling overwhelmed, and have them easily accessible for yourself. Get a sketchpad or a coloring book. Play guitar. Take a shower with your favorite playlist playing and sing along. Write. Whatever activity it is that you can turn to to get your mind off your stressors, make sure it is nearby at all times, and spend time each day doing it for personal meditation.
3. Develop a morning routine.
Especially during the colder months of the year, getting out of bed in the morning can be a difficult feat. Having a set-in-stone morning routine will make you more inclined to get out of bed quickly, as you will know what tasks you need to complete and feel obligated to start them. Start your day off with some stretches or yoga. Factor in some time to do a face mask. Eat breakfast. Write out what you're thankful for each morning. Perform the same sequence of activities each morning and you will start your day off on an organized, grounded foot.
Exercise, exercise, exercise!! No, you don’t need to run five miles every day, but add some extra movement into your days, whether it’s at home or in the gym. There are endless workout sequences available online that require no fancy equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine has many desirable benefits for students, such as improved memory and focus, improved mood, and stress relief.
5. Call your parents.
Not only is college stressful in and of itself, but the added homesickness from being miles away from family can definitely take its toll. So, when all else fails, call home. Since moving across the state from my parents for college, my parents have become the people I vent to, cry to, seek advice from, and share good new with. Rarely a week goes by where we don’t have at least one phone call. Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed, just the reassuring voice of a loved one will help calm us down, and it is important to have an outlet to share your stress.
College is oftentimes distressing and hectic, and it is easy to put your health and mind state on the back burner to focus on classes and grades. However, it is important to prioritize yourself and make sure that you are coping healthily with the stress. Never let yourself crumble under the load of schoolwork, and work at keeping yourself in a relaxed and happy state of mind, just as hard as you work at keeping up with school.