10 ways to practice self-care without procrastinating

It’s official: finals week is approaching. I can almost smell the candy-canes and hot chocolate that come with the holiday break. Unfortunately, this time of year can be a very stressful time for us college students. Pre-finals and finals week more often than not come with term projects to turn in, ten-page papers, and finals worth 75% of your grade.

These things aren't exactly "soothing." More likely, they have you screaming.

Self-care is important to remember during this stressful time. When some people think of self-care, they assume self-care = procrastinating. But there are many, many ways to practice self-care without procrastinating. 

1. Set a list of tasks to accomplish

Making a list of tasks to complete in a certain time period is the best way to be productive. A list stops you from asking “what am I going to do next?” which often results in getting nothing accomplished. When you finish the tasks you have planned for, you can then take a break.

2. Do your nails

Often when I feel stressed, I will do my nails. This is a good stress reliever that won’t let you procrastinate because it has a set end time. When you’re done painting, you’re done. It's not like Netflix where another episode starts if you don’t turn it off within 12 seconds. (Does anyone actually stop an episode after it's started?)

3. Take a nap

This may sound like procrastination, I know. But, if done efficiently, napping can help you be more productive in the end. Let’s face it–sometimes you get so tired that you can’t focus on what you’re doing no matter how much coffee you have. Experts say that a 10-20 minute nap is best to optimize productivity afterwards. So lay down, set an alarm (or twelve), and take a little rest.

4. Go to the gym

Going to the gym is often used as a stress reliever. It allows you to focus on something other than your homework for a short period of time and come back with a clearer head. Exercise will help you get all of that nervous energy out and channel it into something healthy (unlike that bag of Cheetos I would normally stress eat). And, thankfully, you can’t procrastinate with exercise; you can only exercise so long before your limbs turn to Jell-O.

5. Journal

Many psychologists recommend journalling during times of stress to help work through issues you may be having. Making a mind map, prioritizing tasks, or writing outlinesare different ways to utilize this skill during school. 

6. Pet a dog

This is one of my favorite ways to practice self-care. When I’m down, I love to pet my dog or my friend’s dog or my other friend’s cat or any of the dogs from Pete’s Pet Posse. I have a deep belief that petting an animal holds deep psychological benefits in times of stress.

7. Take a hot shower

A shower is a wonderful way to take a break from your work. Heat relaxes the muscles. When you've been bent over your notes too long, your muscles tense up. Let the hot water hit your neck or shoulders–wherever feels most tense.

8. Use essential oils

Essential oil blends for stress relief are a wonderful way to deal with tension from end-of-semester projects and exams. They can be applied directly to the skin or released into the air using an essential oil diffuser. Oils like eucalyptus are particularly good for de-stressing.

9. Put on a face mask

If you decide you need some pampering during this stressful time, face masks are a good option. A nice moisturizing mask is best this time of year due to the changing weather. They can also be helpful because we often forget to take care of our bodies and drink water around finals, opting for caffeinated beverages instead. A hydrating mask will help your skin deal with this loss a little better.

10. Have a cup of coffee or tea

My motto is “when in doubt, a cup of tea/coffee will help." Taking a moment to brew your favorite beverage and really savor it can sometimes be the best way to gather the motivation to continue on with your work.

How do you destress during finals?