The end of the semester looms before us. As things heat up in the classroom and in the social scene, you can barely find any time for yourself. But I’d argue that finding some time to treat yourself really makes all the difference in your attitude and energy. Therefore, I’ve developed some self-care tips to help keep yourself sane through the home stretch.
Check out some simple ways to practice self-care through the stressful semester’s end.
Our bodies cannot function without adequate sleep. Making it through the day without dozing off does trump the importance of finishing that 50-page reading. Generally, at least seven hours per night is a solid rule. For me, any work I do past 11 p.m. won’t turn out too hot, so I make a conscious effort to stop doing schoolwork at that time and go straight to my dorm. My bed welcomes me by midnight. If you have trouble getting to sleep, talk to your doctor about supplements (in my experience, melatonin gummies work wonders). Be nice to your body, recharge and go get some sleep.
For me personally, I have almost no meal swipes or dining dollars left. If this sounds like you, reach out and ask for help; you might get a surprising response. If your wallet looks sparse and you can’t afford groceries, check out a campus food pantry or local food bank. Our brains and bodies can’t function if we don’t eat (our bodies actually go into starvation mode). As someone who regularly gets hangry, I can attest to how essential food is in productivity (not only in terms of academic work but also in just normal bodily functions). Please eat; your body will thank you.
3. Give your brain something to do
This doesn’t have to mean schoolwork. Pick up a book, make a Duolingo account, do some sudoku or a crossword puzzle. Maybe even make a ~vibes~ playlist on Spotify. The possibilities are endless here. I made an account on Duolingo last week and I started learning Gaelic and Dutch. It feels so nice to do something productive, not schoolwork, after doing schoolwork for 15 weeks.
4. Say no
Know your limits. You don’t have to say yes to everything and you shouldn‘t either. You don’t even need a reason to say no. If you don’t want to do it, that’s enough. Nobody can do it all, but plenty of people run themselves ragged trying.
5. Listen to your body
This one covers a lot. Eat when you need to, sleep when you’re tired, stop drinking when you want to. Continue taking your meds and talk to your doctor if you run into any hiccups. Lots of professors have pretty lax attendance policies; take advantage of that when your body tells you to.
6. Treat yo self
You can interpret this however you’d like. Paint your nails, eat an extra cookie, order a book on Amazon. Do your makeup, curl your hair, bake a cake just for you. Do what makes you happy. You’ve worked so hard this year; you deserve it.
7. Designate “me time”
“Me time” is so important. Give yourself time to remain sane. Free time dedicated to yourself will help you recover from your day. Take a nap, do a face mask, play with your pet. My tip: have an hour and a half after class every day so you can decompress. Going super hard all day will burn you out before the sun even sets. Don’t let that happen.
8. Call a loved one
College life can mean distance and hectic schedules, so it can be difficult to keep up with family and friends from home. Remind yourself that people who care about your well-being do exist. Facetime your dad or your pet at home or your best friend at another school. Remember that there is more to life than schoolwork. Appreciate the love in your life.
9. Have a night in with your pals or your boo
Invite your friends or bae over for popcorn and a movie. Drink some wine, braid each other’s hair and eat some snacks. You don’t need to do anything fancy to enjoy each other’s company. Enjoy just being.
10. Make some memes
I do this to remind myself to stop taking stuff too seriously. The end of the year can get hectic, and making lighthearted jokes about your school or your five papers (all worth 50 percent of your final grade) can make it not seem that daunting.
11. Create a gratitude list
When things get heavy, recalling the good we have in our lives carries a lot of value. Especially at the end of the year when sh-t gets crazy, it can feel like nothing goes right. Make a list of what you’re grateful for—your dog, the rain, warm chocolate chip cookies. Remind yourself of the good in our world.
12. Watch bad reality TV
Or good reality TV. The Great British Baking Show never fails to cheer me up. On the other hand, The Worst Cooks in America offers an excellent way to make yourself feel better. At least you know what an onion looks like, right?
13. Go for a walk
Get out of your dorm room, get out of the library, get out of your professor’s office. Spring fever hits hard in college, especially if your school has an outdoor campus. Feeling trapped inside for all of the winter because of the cold and into late spring because of rain can actually cause the chemistry in our brain to change. It’s springtime. Go enjoy it.
14. Clean out your closet
A clean closet can feel like a fresh start, especially when you have no motivation to tackle the rest of your room or apartment. Not only that, but cleaning out your closet and getting rid of clothes you no longer wear can make way for new clothing excitement as well as giving others a chance to enjoy those pieces. If your university has a page for selling clothes, consider posting on that. Maybe your school has a thrift store or a secondhand shop you don’t know about. If not, ask your friends if they want the clothes and donate the rest to Goodwill or another charity of your choice.
15. Reach out when you need help
There comes a point where simple self-care doesn’t quite cut it. If things start to feel too heavy for you to carry, please reach out. Schoolwork is not worth sacrificing your health. Your school should have a counseling center that you can contact, but if not please reach out to one of the many hotlines available to help.
I don’t know about your school, but my college has a really packed end of semester (midterms that start mid-semester and go until finals, blowout, formals, dwindling meal swipes and dining dollars and so on). Please listen to your body during this time. When it comes down to it, all that matters is that you’re healthy. Yes, you went to college to get an education—but not at the expense of your health. Remember that resources built to help you do exist. Remember that you can say no. And remember that you are enough.