Column: Make sure that you’re being intentional with your self-care as the end of the semester approaches

Although the end of the semester can be stressful and overwhelming, make sure that you’re doing things that help keep your head above water.

Roshae Hemmings is a first-year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about civil rights.

With the end of the semester fast approaching, it can be really easy to get caught up in everything that the last month of the school year has in store. From group projects to the last few tests before finals to negotiating final grades with professors, this time of the semester can be insanely overwhelming and fast-paced.

In the past, a high-pressure time like this would result in me being the absolute worst to myself. I wouldn’t be eating, I’d stay up all night to get work done, which meant no sleep, I’d isolate myself from friends and family and I wouldn’t take any time for myself. Nationally, 55% of college students said that their biggest stressor is academic in nature, with 53% of students claiming to be so stressed that they didn’t want to hang out with family or friends on multiple occasions according to LiveWellNYU. With this being said, I promised that I would be kinder to myself in 2019 and because of this, here are some things that I’ve been doing to keep my head above water during stressful times.

One: Make lists

Making lists has made a huge difference in my productivity. I find that when I think of all of the things that I have to do, whether it’s due in two days or two weeks, I get super overwhelmed and try to do it all at once. However, making lists has shown to be beneficial. They can help with organization, memory, productivity and they serve as a motivational tool, according to Toodledo.

When I make lists, I categorize them into three sections: first priority (very urgent, due this week), second priority (urgent, due in one week) and third priority (no rush, due in two or more weeks). I love this system because it organizes the work that I have to do in a way that is manageable and effective. It’s also rewarding to see all of the tasks on the list being completed throughout the week.

Two: Make it a point to do the little, mundane things

This includes eating, showering, making your bed, eating, doing laundry, etc. These things, especially the personal hygiene practices, seem like things that one would know to do every day or every week. However, when life’s pace starts to pick up and things become busier, it’s easier to neglect these simple tasks. While it seems easier to not make your bed or skip out on lunch in the interest of gaining more study time, forgoing these tasks has detrimental effects. Depriving the brain of the glucose derived from carb-rich foods can leave you feeling sluggish and unable to focus, according to SELF.

A messy space can also contribute to stress. Clutter can disturb sleep and prevent productivity in life, according to feng shui. Keeping your space unkempt can also be an unpleasant reminder of all the things that you need to get done. In stressful times, make a conscious effort to do the little things. And even though accomplishing these tasks don’t count for a grade, I’ve found that getting them done still helps me to feel accomplished and productive.

Three: Spend time with friends and call family

In busy times, I find that I isolate myself from my friends and family, under the guise of “I don’t have time” to hang out with or talk to them. At the end of the day, college is hectic and even when you think you have a break, there’s probably something that you should be doing.

Despite this, human connection in stressful situations can be therapeutic, according to The Pip When I know that I have a busy week coming up, I make it a point to reach out to my friends and plan a movie night, game night, lunch or some type of hangout. I also make it a point to talk to my family. Even if I’m on my way to class and make a quick call to my mom, I find that that can help me to relax.

Four: Chill out with the all nighters

Even though staying up until 3 a.m. seems necessary for you to ace your upcoming exam, I promise that sleep is more important. Not only is it integral to your basic health and maintaining your mood, it also helps you to retain and utilize information more effectively.

Sleep is an important factor in the process of memory consolidation. This two-step process is how memories are encoded in the brain, according to Tonic. So even if you think you don’t need sleep and can stay up studying for your big test, chances are that all of that studying will go to waste if you don’t have the sleep to help you retain that information.

Five: Carve out time for yourself

This will look differently for everyone, but make sure that each day you’re doing something that makes you happy. Whether it’s for ten minutes or two hours, making time to forget about the stress of school is valuable. Personally, I’ve recently gotten into skin care. My routine takes about 20-30 minutes and I love it. Not only is it a great way for me to unwind before I go to bed, but I’m also doing something good for myself and seeing results in the process. Whether you choose to read a book or watch a couple of episodes of your favorite show, having a time in the day that’s just for you is rewarding.

The last few weeks of school are rough, there’s no denying that. But in stressful situations, when times are a little bit harder, make sure that you’re treating yourself with kindness and care. Also, don’t forget to breathe. We’re almost done and soon, we’ll have a whole two months off before we have to do it all over again.

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