Self-Care: It’s Good for the Soul

By Sinead Hunt

For Barnard students, March can be an especially stressful time of year. The prospect of looming midterms strikes fear into the hearts of many students. First-years, in particular, can feel overwhelmed, as we are not yet acclimated to the demands of college. When it comes to midterms, many students employ a variety of different tactics and strategies to achieve success. While some students rely on their meticulous notes to carry them through this stressful period, others may desperately plead to a higher deity to spare their GPA. Whatever method you employ while studying for midterms, however, it is important to practice self-care.

5 tips for practicing good self-care:

 

1. Eat right and drink plenty of water

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I know that many students use midterms as an excuse to neglect their diets. Personally speaking, I know that between studying and desperately trying to imbibe as much caffeine as humanly possible, I often forget to eat a meal. Nonetheless, you are what you eat–in which case, I would be a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll and a six-pack of Diet Coke–so it is important to fuel your brain with healthy, leafy greens and filling grains, such as oatmeal or brown rice.

 

2. Remember to reward yourself

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Enduring long hours of studying with little respite can make you feel as if you’re trapped in an unrelenting state of purgatory (In Dante’s Inferno, there are nine circles of Hell. In Butler, there are nine floors. Coincidence? More like conspiracy!). In order to lessen the monotony of long hours spent studying, as well as keep yourself motivated, you should establish some kind of a reward system for yourself. For instance, I subscribe to the 50-10 method, meaning that for every fifty minutes I spend studying, I spend ten minutes engaged in some enjoyable activity, such as watching Gilmore Girls.

3. Sleep

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In general, 7-8 hours of sleep a night is recommended to maintain mental sharpness. Some researchers believe that sleep is especially important during exam period, as it is crucial to both learning and memory.  It is thought that the brain uses the time that we are asleep to consolidate the neuronal connections made throughout the day. Therefore, by denying yourself sleep in favor of all-nighters, you may actually be hurting, rather than helping, your GPA.

4. Exercise

Whether you love going to the gym, or prefer alternative forms of exercise, such as walking, dancing or swimming, exercise can be a great way to clear your head. Personally, I enjoy multitasking, which is why the Gottesman Library at Teacher’s College is my favorite spot on campus. There you can take advantage of their innovative treadmill desks, which allow you to simultaneously study and exercise.

5. Human Interaction

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Too often, during exams we tend to isolate ourselves from our friends and family. However, if you can spare but five minutes in your busy day, a meaningful conversation with a close friend or family member can be incredibly restorative.

 

One final note:

Midterms can be an incredibly stressful and emotionally taxing period. As Barnard students, we have access to a number of helpful resources to deal with stress, including Well Woman and Furman. If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these resources—they are here for you!

Sinead Hunt is a first-year at Barnard and Liaison for Barnard Bite.

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