Staff Ed: How to survive the dark of the year

To state the obvious, finals suck. To make matters worse, Thanksgiving break came late this year, which has made the semester feel even longer. Even though everyone had high expectations for getting work done over break, those plans never seem to pan out. You were at home, your parents wanted to talk about “the next step in your plan,” your extended family was there and the no-electronics policy was enforced because it was “family time.” So now we’re all in that “how do I cram a semester’s worth of work into one week’s study time” panic. But don’t fret, because almost every single person on this campus is in the same boat. And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that misery loves company, so grab a few friends and chill.

Here are a few tips from the editorial board to help you avoid the dark sadness that envelops us all at this time of year:

Go outside
Enjoy the few hours of sunlight that we do get and make some time to take a walk or go for a jog in Forest Park. Waking up early is hard but worth it; it gives you some extra time to get ready at a leisurely pace and actually have a morning routine. Try getting up an hour earlier to sit next to your window and enjoy your morning coffee. Fresh air and sun is good for you so treat yourself like you would a plant: lots of water and sunlight. If you’re finding that seasonal depression is hitting you hard and there isn’t enough outside time in your day, perhaps purchase a cheap sun lamp from Amazon. A sun lamp replicates outdoor natural light and has health benefits such as increasing serotonin and melatonin, making it a great study buddy.

Don’t let your sleep schedule fall apart
Now more than ever, it’s important for you to get in a full night’s rest and hit that REM cycle. Pulling all-nighters might sound like your only option. However, sleep is crucial to staying healthy and keeping your brain functioning. Falling asleep during your final is not ideal, and studying a few terms and then sleeping has been proven to increase your retention.

Don’t just hole up in Olin
It’s important that you don’t forget to actually study, but try not to spend all of your time in the B-stacks. Change up your study place by going to the law library or the DUC Formal Lounge. If you like background noise, try a new coffee shop this week and take a break from campus.

Study with others
Studying with your friends can be difficult; however, moral support is very important during finals season. If you can’t refrain from talking with your friends, try the Mars Room on the third floor of Olin; it forces you to be deadly silent and any noise you make will inevitably be met with cold glares and a scolding “shush.”

Don’t forget to eat
Eat! Health is always a priority, especially right now, so pack study snacks, eat a healthy breakfast and make time in your schedule for meals. It’s easy to pretend like you don’t need food when you’re grinding but ultimately your immune system will pay—either by catching the bug that’s going around or maybe even getting hospitalized for pharyngitis (this has happened before).

Make time for your friends
Plan a movie night or a trip to PetSmart with your friends. Get off campus for a little while and talk about life, but make sure not all of your conversations revolve around all of the work you have to do.

Make time for yourself
Take time out of your day to do things that you love. Go for a run, do some yoga, sit on the couch and watch some Netflix but most importantly, don’t feel guilty for doing things you enjoy! This is easier said than done, but taking an intentional break will help you concentrate later.

Plan your procrastination
This may sound silly, but actually plan a time to procrastinate. Whether this means setting aside two hours of your day to be “lazy” or telling yourself that it’s okay if you don’t finish your paper today, planned procrastination gives you a bit more wiggle room and alleviates some of that stress.

Time management is key
Working and studying is clearly a necessity during this time of year, but the major factor in keeping your stress level low is time management. A planner and a calendar will come in handy to help you stay organized during finals season. Make a to-do list and separate assignments between days so that you can find balance. There may not be a lot of time in between your finals or final papers, so give yourself time by reserving a few days in advance to study for one class and then moving onto the next subject once you feel comfortable with that one.

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