As the prospect of a new year dawns upon us, exam season slowly but surely makes its way to loom over university gates. Another first semester nears its end but isn’t entirely wrapped up until we have done away with our final examinations. In times like these, it’s easy to be thrown off balance by the overwhelming stress and to be affected by the less-than-exciting weather.
Nevertheless, there is always something we can do to shed a little light, even on the gloomiest and most stressful days. Instead of preaching age-old tricks like meditation, exercise, or eating healthy, I’m going to share with you five practical methods through which I practise self-care, especially during stressful times, that work wonders. These are beginner-friendly tricks that do not require extra spending, and you can start doing them right away, so buckle up!
1. Get Up and Away
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, a sensible thing to do is distance yourself from what is distressing you. Physically stepping away from a situation is easier accomplished than mentally stepping away, and the former facilitates the latter.
Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, take the long way home, slow your pace to appreciate the scenery, and stop to smell the flowers. Doing something that distracts you, even as simple as going outside, will rewire your mind so you return to your task refreshed. This way, instead of looking at the matter at hand from a problematic point of view, you can tackle it from a brand-new perspective.
During the frosty days when I don’t feel like being out in the cold, my way of implementing this method is to leave my room (where I am usually stressing out about assignments) for the kitchen and begin making a snack or preparing for the next meal of the day. Mundane tasks take your mind off things more than you would expect!
2. Dive into Favourites
There’s nothing more comforting than your select favourites. Things come to be our ‘favourites’ because of how much joy they bring us; this goes for music, films, books, instruments, and more.
Whenever the stress is creeping up on me, I divert to watch my comfort American TV shows or listen to the playlist I so love to champion and try to drown out whatever is bothering me. My all-time go-to is diving into a fantasy-packed fiction book that transports me to another dimension where my problems seemingly dissipate.
Indulging yourself in your favourite activities may not have the power to eradicate your worries and stress, but they can definitely instil a better mood in you and get you back in your groove. So, flip open that page and curl up in your bed or put on your headphones and have an impromptu dance party!
3. Talk to a Friend
In university, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re not alone in any given situation. If you’re stressing out over finals or deadlines, chances are someone you know is pedalling through the same motions. Rather than keep your feelings pent up, release them by talking to a friend who understands.
On days when my spirits are low, I will call a friend either to meet up or talk through the phone. It’s consoling to know that this journey of braving through a temporary storm doesn’t have to be a lonely one, and sometimes, seeing that your friends have made it safely through the other side gives you the motivation to keep going as well.
Some of us might be afraid to trouble other people with our worries but we return to the adage “no man is an island.” You never know if your friend needs someone to talk to as well!
4. Lay It on Paper
Self-care isn’t pretty; it isn’t just aesthetic bath bombs and face masks. This process often entails confronting what is bothering you, which most of us try to avoid. The cold, hard truth is that we can’t run from our obligations forever.
While the other methods I’ve mentioned can take your mind off your troubles, they are only temporary fixes. To soldier through what you’re shying away from, I’ve found that the best way is to lay your worries on paper for visualization.
Let’s say you’re stressed out about an essay you have to turn in soon. List down exactly why you’re procrastinating from starting it. Are you worried about not getting a good grade? Are you troubled by not understanding the question well enough? Are you clueless as to where to begin?
Once you have that list, you have a set of tangible problem statements in front of you. From thereon, work your way through each point and develop solutions. You will see that most of what you’re stressing out about can be eased once you’ve formulated a step-by-step plan of attack.
5. One Day at A Time
When all is said and done, the best self-care advice is to take it one day at a time. If that seems too daunting of a task, shrink it down into chunks; think one hour at a time or even one minute at a time.
It’s impossible to stop worrying all of a sudden. Telling yourself not to stress out will only exacerbate the situation. So, proceed at your own pace. Only you know what is best for you. Take breaks when you need to. Work for only five minutes if that is all you can do at the moment. Slow progress is still progress, and we’re all in this together.
With that said, here’s a quick reminder that you have to first take care of yourself before taking care of other tasks around you! In this upcoming exam season, the storm shall pass, and you, too, shall pass