Know when it’s time to let loose…
It’s Halloween! Well, almost. That means parties, get-togethers, dinners, and all manner of campus events. Even if dressing up for Halloween isn’t your thing, find space on campus and in your social circles for fun. As someone who tends toward staunch independence, I sometimes find it difficult to determine that I need social interaction, some fun and laughter, or even just space away from my work. Especially during midterm season, even noticing that . Be relentless with your interrogation: Am I more irritable than usual? Is it taking me longer to get out of bed in the morning? Do I struggle to fall asleep? Am I feeling more anxious than normal? If yes, think about what you’ve done for yourself in the past few weeks. If the list is short or nonexistent, schedule it in: make sure “Dinner with Friends” or “Movie Night” find a place in your Google Calendar agenda. Make time for interactions and connections that feed your spirit: your mind and body will thank you.
But also know when enough is enough.
There is nothing scarier than the middle of the semester, when the fresh burst of energy that carried you through August and September starts to run low. For me, the worst thing about procrastination has always been how it gets worse the more worried I get about being behind or not having enough time. Sometimes, procrastination is even an easier scapegoat than admitting that I just don’t feel well. Take the time to step away from the activities and socializing and work and acknowledge what emotions are informing your behavior. Are you hanging out with friends every evening because you want to or because confronting classwork that you’re struggling with is difficult? Are you putting assignments off because you’re lazy or because your mental health isn’t up to par? Letting loose is a stress-reliever, but the pendulum can certainly swing too far. Practice checking in with yourself, so that you know when to take time for yourself, alone.. Understanding how you cope with stress can only help you when we (finally) get to finals.
It’s something all of our parents have said before, but being a college student requires more preparedness than I could have ever anticipated as a starry-eyed new high school graduate. Being prepared sounds boring, especially in the context of all that’s happening in October and November. However, think of getting yourself together as early as possible is an investment in your mental wellbeing. For me, this week was a fast-paced ride: from parties to dinners to an amazing Commodore Quake with Megan Thee Stallion, I felt like I was always doing something. However, by the time Sunday rolled around, I was stressed and almost panicky about the string of exams and midterms I had coming up. While I couldn’t have studied all of the material beforehand, organizing my to-do list and setting realistic daily goals would have made success come much easier. Even if it takes working a little bit on a Friday or Saturday night before you go out, you’ll be much less stressed come morning.
Celebrate how far you’ve come!
Every month, I try to take a step back and remember how much my life has changed since the last time I experienced this time of year. Last year, I was forced to learn how to care for myself and this year it’s finally beginning to feel natural. It’s always worth reflecting on how far you’ve come in your college journey. It’s trite, but what new leaf have you turned over? What destructive coping mechanisms have you replaced with positive ones? What new connections have your formed? In what areas of your life are you now practicing intentionality? You may be surprised by the differences.