It is currently 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, hours after my last exam. It feels as if I have been prepping for these tests for a couple weeks now. My mind has been such a fog of study guides, flash cards, and black coffee.
It is times like these, when school is the top priority and all of my focus goes to grades that I start to disconnect with myself. In this span of a few days spent studying, bailing on plans last minute, and camped out in sweats, the girl I think I am feels an ocean away.
When I walked home from my last exam, I let my head hang and my eyes memorize the crack in the sidewalk. Even though I felt confident about the exam, I felt depressed and defeated. I felt tired and empty.
Here are a ten things that I have been doing to help bring myself back during the chaos of finals when my brain is blurred with test bubbles and eraser shavings.
- Write down things that happen. Whatever way you choose to record, it be one sentence a day, the best thing that happened to you, or a recap of your entire day. This life is your story and you should record the things you are passionate about, things that inspire you, and moments that make you happy.
- Read something that is not on a screen. It can be a book, a magazine, a flier, a free newspaper, whatever you choose to read, focus all of your attention on it and put your phone down. Feel the pages, thumb through them, and rip them out.
- Talk to someone about anything but school. Connect with another human. Remember the things that keep you here.
- Meditate. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Meditation is beautiful, it gives you time to sit and relax. You have no obligation other than to be in that moment. You can create a bond between your mind, body and soul just by breathing.
- Listen to killer tunes. Find music that reminds you of road trips. The feel good song that you’d shout out the window with wind whipping through your hair. Turn on the song at full blast and dance around your room for its entirety.
- Compliment somebody, and really mean it. Try to praise someone about something other than their outward appearance. Notice their talents, personality, sense of style, their manners, and speak up about it. It is okay if person you compliment is yourself.
- Cultivate gratitude. Make it a ritual, either right when you wake up or right when you go to bed, to list off ten things that you are genuinely grateful for.
- Sweat. Get your body moving in whatever way you love best. I like running, dancing, walking, and doing yoga.
- Laugh uncontrollably. Laugh so hard you cry. Laugh so hard you pee your pants. Be with people who make you laugh, listen to stand up comedy, laugh at a TV show, and mean it.
- Connect with nature. Go outside no matter what the weather is like. Even if it just for a few minutes, really sit and feel the energy swirling around you, the sunshine beating down on you, wind in your hair, rain on your skin, chilled toes.
Why is is so hard to take care of ourselves during exam week? Why do we put off things essential to our health and brain function, like eating and sleeping?
- The point of college is to get good grades and you are paying a lot of money to be here, so you put this first.
- It’s hard to take time for yourself when your mind keeps drifting to what you could be doing for school.
- There is so much drive in our society to work, work, work.
Now don’t get me wrong, hard work is valuable, but it is also on a spectrum. On one end, there is giving up; on the other end, there is working too hard. Are you giving up? Or are you shooting for unattainable perfectionism and compromising your health? A balance of hard work with time to eat, sleep, and re-energize are necessary to not hit your breaking point!
I always remind myself that numbers don’t define my worth, but this is usually in regards to weight. But doesn’t this also apply to other numbers? Grades do not equal worth either. If you do poorly on a test, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. Remember, there are so many other aspects of life that you are thriving at, so don’t forget to focus on those things too.
I like to tell myself that as long as I study and try my best, then that is all I can do. Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
What are you doing to take care of yourself this weekend?