Jumping Hurdles: Self-care

December is here, and for students, that often means stress and late nights as opposed to holiday cheer and Christmas cookies. The anxiety of upcoming finals often prevents me from enjoying my final weeks of the semester, and it can be difficult not to feel particularly bogged down.

This year, I’m making an active effort to practice self-care during finals. It’s so easy to let stress get to you and to feel overwhelmed, but I know if I ensure that I’m making space for myself and practicing self-care, I’ll be able to get through these last two weeks alive. I have a few tips I’ve learned over the past two years on how to stay afloat during finals.

The single most important thing I’ve learned is to get enough sleep. Finals time seems to be paired with late nights in Tisch and all-nighters finishing projects. I’ve definitely been there before — staying so late in Tisch that I hear the creepy voice telling me it’s time to go, and ignoring her to stay even longer in the reading room. This semester, I’ve learned that there comes a point when it’s time to say enough is enough, bite the bullet and go to bed — even if I didn’t finish everything I wanted to. Pushing myself to stay up late only makes me more unproductive the next day, and I find it takes a huge toll on my health and mood. To keep myself from being in a situation where a late night becomes necessary, I try and do a little bit of work every day, so I don’t procrastinate and put myself in a situation where I’m scrambling to complete something the night before it’s due. Sleep is critical during finals to keep you healthy, happy and alert, and I’ve learned that it is something I will no longer compromise.

Another way I like to keep myself healthy and happy during finals is to make sure I do not sink into a negative thought process. During finals and reading period, everyone seems to be so stressed that they can’t talk about anything other than how busy and anxious they are. I don’t like going down the road of self-deprecation and negativity — I find it does nothing productive and only makes me unnecessarily anxious. I combat these feelings by actively telling myself positive things about my day and my work. Every time I leave the library, I like to think of all the things I did get done instead of dwelling on the things I didn’t finish.

One final way I practice self-care during finals is by giving myself space every day to just relax and focus on myself. Whether it’s one evening of watching Netflix or going out to brunch one morning, I find its important to separate myself from my work and recharge. During finals, it can feel like there’s absolutely no time to relax, but this just isn’t the case. It’s all about being efficient while working and relaxing completely when not working. Finals don’t have to be the most stressful time of the year. It’s all about finding a balance!