Recently in my Intro to International Relations section, my TA mentioned how we were already halfway through the semester. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. Starting college has been a huge change and sometimes a big challenge – being in a new environment, adjusting to a heavier course load than in high school, and figuring out my trajectory. This kind of pressure leads to a lot of stress and even burnout, and it’s important to learn how to take care of yourself in the face of challenges. Here are four tips that have helped me.
- Get your body moving. Long uninterrupted hours at Lauinger Library or in my dorm room leads me to unproductive, miserable work. I like to break up my day by getting some fresh air and exercise, whether that means heading over to Yates for a lift or walking across the Key Bridge to Rosslyn at night. I particularly recommend the latter with friends (stay safe!) – looking out over the Potomac and at the city surrounding me really helps clear my head before going back to work.
- Find time for sleep, however you can. We all know that sleep is important. But sometimes there’s just a deadline that can’t be missed or the consequences of procrastination that must be addressed. Since I often have a busy schedule during the day with gaps too short to get any substantial work done, I tend to utilize that time for quick power naps. A lack of sleep makes you lose focus and more irritable and stressed out. Even 15-20 minutes of rest during the day is helpful for regaining energy before a meeting and makes up for any sleep lost studying late into the night. Find what kind of sleep schedule works best for you and stick to it.
- Eat meals with friends. Whether it’s a quick lunch break at Leo’s or a dinner out on M Street, it’s so great to share good food with good company. Just being able to talk (or commiserate) with friends is a huge stress reliever for me, and it helps prevent the feeling of loneliness that can arise from being stuck in a cubicle for hours on end.
- Embrace being alone and staying in if it’s the best for you. On the other hand, don’t let yourself be swept into constant socializing because of the pressure to always be surrounded by people. It’s important to take time for yourself in a situation where you’re not just studying mindlessly or doing chores. Spending a night watching a comfort TV show or calling friends and family is just as good for relieving stress and self-care as going out.
As the semester continues and finals week approaches, I’m really trying to use all these tips to make the best game plan for myself – for my academic, mental, and physical wellbeing. Pick and choose what works for you and incorporate your own stress relief techniques, wherever you are in life. We’ve got this!