Self-Care In the Age of Final Exams
The year 2019 is coming to a close. It’s been a year of change, exciting adventures, and opportunities for growth. It’s been full of ups and downs, Mercury in retrograde (again), and major changes. Change will keep happening, and can be super overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, and create an incredible amount of pressure. However, learning to stop and breathe can be the most valuable thing you’ll ever do for yourself. But how does someone do that in today’s fast-paced, constant culture? Well, that’s what blogs are for! (Actually, just this blog.)
It can be easy to get caught in the trap of burnout. If you’re constantly feeling exhausted, irritable, overworked, and like everything’s slipping through your fingers, it might be a time to take a step back. Burnout is insidious. It will convince you that you’re doing what you can while the people around you are either getting hurt or watching you hurt yourself to survive. It’s also really hard to recover from. How would you even start? It’s not like you can just quit everything and become a hermit in the woods. Still, the first step is to recognize it. You’re feeling burnt out! Time to take a step back so you can take care of you. However, what time do you have to take care of yourself?
Carving Out Time for Yourself
Funnily enough, you don’t need that much time. This is the first tip to starting a self-care habit; don’t try to force time. It will stress you out more. Instead, start to find little pockets of time in and around your schedule. Have an hour between school and work? Use fifteen minutes to do some breathing exercises. Need some time to yourself? Take the time driving to be alone (with your fav music, of course). Wake up early one morning? Roll out of bed and make a warm drink – sit for a minute. Taking little pockets of time to breathe, even if they’re not long, can help you relax and re-center.
Avoiding the Lure of Retail Therapy
Self-care has become quite a lucrative business in today’s society. For a lot of people, it involves retail therapy. Buy this thing. Get that dress. Try this skincare routine. Drink our mystery juice. Treat yo self. Every wellness blogger advocates for this or that product or service. Instagram influencers and ads talk about crystals and magic powders and trips to Venice. Businesses capitalize on relaxation and caring for oneself whilst also being part of the problem.
However, how much of that will help you? Instant gratification buying is such a prevalent thing, but a lot of self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. This is especially true in college when money is not falling at your feet wherever you step, and that one last dollar is limply trapped in your wallet for emergencies. Obviously, I’m going to tell you not to buy stuff. However, that’s not as useful as a solution. When you get the urge to impulse buy, the answer isn’t “don’t buy anything ever,” but, “buy once per xx.” For instance, choose once a month when you can afford to and go out to eat, see a movie, or do something little. It limits your spending a bit so you can budget more, and you still get gratification.
Finding a Quiet Space to Recharge
When you’re busy and overwhelmed, the world can be a lot. It can seem like every little thing is louder than usual, every irritation more grating – everything is terrible, and you want to watch that YouTube video of people building houses and copy them for the rest of your life. This is not recommended (though the house would be cheaper).
Still, finding a spot for you to go to when overwhelmed is essential. This can be retreating to your room if you feel comfortable in that space. It can be your favorite coffee shop, where the atmosphere is calming, and you have no responsibility. It could be a library, a park, a remote drive, or even just your car. Find a spot to retreat when the world gets too much so you can recharge.
It’s a Start
Many students go to school full-time and have a job or four. They have other things to attend to. Sleep is hard to come by, food schedules are out the window, and it can be hard to focus. That’s why self-care is so important, though. Taking time to yourself, even if it’s the end of the night or 4 pm on a Tuesday, to care for you will make things so much better. It’s no cure – but it’s a start.
Heather Haviland is a social media intern with the Marketing & Strategic Communications Department at SPC. She is currently a student at the Seminole Campus.