Whether you have been learning in-person, online, or a mix of both, I think we can all agree that this semester has definitely been unlike any other. Here are some things you can do right now (or save for later!) to destress ahead of fall semester finals.
1. Practice adopting a non-judgmental stance towards yourself.
Many of us are probably still in the default mindset of feeling like you have to be productive all of the time, but this can cause stress to build up. We are living through a global pandemic, and sometimes it simply isn’t possible to be as productive as we have been in the past due to all this additional stress. Here are some ways to give yourself a mental break from those high expectations:
- Check out this 15 Minute Practice to Cultivate Nonjudgmental Awareness.
- Write a reminder/affirmation to yourself and stick it somewhere you will see often. Here are some examples:
- “I am a complete person; my grades or success is not a measure of my worth.”
- “Today I will allow myself to exist freely from the pressure to be productive.”
2. Dedicate time to disconnect from screens.
Many devices have built-in screen time monitors which shows just how much time you are actually spending in front of a screen. Of course, some of the time spent on Zoom calls is necessary for classes or work, but here are some tips to help reduce the mental load of always being digitally available:
- Phone in for larger zoom calls, that way you can still get the necessary information without having to look at the computer screen.
- Reduce the on-screen stimuli that can divide your attention and feel overwhelming; hide self-view and turn off notifications on your computer.
- Give yourself permission to say “no” if you are exhausted from being on screen all day. Video calls can easily be recorded so you can participate asynchronously once you recharge away from the screen.
3. Identify ways to maintain structure in your life amid the stress.
Sit down somewhere comfortable and think about your daily routines nowadays. When do you wake up and go to sleep? How often do you eat and drink water? What habits do you have now that bring you peace? Remember, you’re not here to judge yourself, accept that where you are right now is okay. Think about the ways in which you could take small actions in your daily routines to reduce your stress, such as:
- Waking up and going to bed at relatively consistent times.
- Setting a time limit for phone/computer/TV screen time.
- Making weekly time (such 7-8 PM on Thursdays) for you to drop everything that you have to do and focus on what you do for self-care.
4. Reach out to others.
See if others are having similar stressors and ask what they do to handle it. We are not alone in any of the stress we are feeling right now, and it can help to share that with someone else you trust. Also, if you are feeling academic stress it is better to reach out to your professors earlier rather than later and express your situation and if you need more support, time, etc in order to meet the learning outcomes. Here are some ways to connect with others beyond texting or phone calls:
- Write letters back and forth with a friend/penpal! Whether they are near or far away, a letter is a fantastic way to slow down and put some care into a relationship.
- Make personalized playlists for friends and family! Let others know you're thinking of them with a playlist of music that reminds you of them.
It’s been a pleasure to write about life in Baltimore this semester for Collegetown. I wish everyone a calm, safe, and positive finals/holiday season, and I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you next semester!