Keep Calm and Sane During Midterms

Cornelia Beckett ‘14
Opinions Editor

The notion of self-care is so thrown around at Smith that it may inspire eye-rolling of our dark, baggy, sleep-deprived eyes. Self-care? Who has time for that? In between classes, homework, work work, org commitments, friends, significant others, family, house commitments and the countless other responsibilities that Smithies take on, the idea of self-care is laughable. Binge-drinking on a weekend, though, or binge-watching Netflix, or binge-sleeping, bingeing on food, though, are de-facto punch lines when you ask a Smithie about their weekend or break.

Not to sound like a total mom, but Smithies, please take care of yourselves. I’ve binged on things until the temptation is gone, and feeling like microwaved death sets in.  That’s where hard-won and trial tested coping mechanisms come in. I’ve done the dirty work so you don’t have to. Behold: a list of resources for self-care that won’t involve a hangover of the body, eyeballs or soul.

1. Enough sleep for your particular circadian rhythm. Easier said than done, I know. Staying up late to finish work seems worthwhile at the time, but in the grand scheme of your college career and life, is staying up until the wee hours to finish this paper worth it? Ask for an extension. If you are willing to risk a possible grade penalty, take the hit and turn it in late. Better yet, stop refreshing Tumblr and taking “TV breaks.”

2.  Turn off the screens. I know, I know, you can’t do work without your computer, and you can’t function without your phone. But try this: shut off electronics even for a few hours, use a library or computer lab computer, stay focused on one tab, and get your work done much more quickly than you would on your trusty laptop. Use the time you’ve saved to take a nice hot shower, or go for a walk by Paradise Pond. These are resources available to you- use them.

3. Say no. As female-socialized people, our duty in life is to be first pretty and secondly compliant. Assuming that you haven’t showered in days and have cast off your definition of restricting beauty standards, you might still find. But I urge you to set boundaries and say no: to vampires of your time and emotional energy, to events that you don’t feel like going to, to volunteer demands that you’re expected to do but the thought of crush your soul. I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I believe that unless we’re doing it for credit, survival or money, or out of a genuine sense of need, that young women should say no to the demands that stretch us too thin.

4. Mom miscellany: aka the stuff your mom, or a mom might tell you: drink enough water, wear a sweater if it’s cold, eat your veggies, go play outside, take deep breaths and count to ten. There’s a reason these clichés get handed out again and again: THEY WORK. That is… unless you need the final step.

5. Get professional help. Counseling services can recommend you to a therapist or psychiatrist. All of the above ideas for self-care and sanity don’t mean a thing if you’re severely depressed, anxious or distressed. I started medication and talk therapy, it took time, but the rest fell into place. Coping mechanisms take time to figure out and to implement. It is hard work to hold yourself accountable while cradling yourself like the precious being you are. When we can set boundaries and take good care of ourselves, we can take care of each other.

6. Give yourself a break. Being gentle with yourself is essential.

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