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Many people often conflate self-care with indulgent acts like visiting a spa, having your nails done, or a big shopping trip. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these forms of self-care, not all self-care needs to be expensive or time-consuming. Ultimately, self-care is unique to each individual, as long as they feel better by the end.

With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, many students begin to feel inundated with tests, essays, and projects. During this time, it can be difficult to balance one’s well-being with their classes, however, it is essential to prioritize our mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Here are a few quick, easy self-care tips and ideas for when you need a little break this finals season.

1. Exercise

While this may seem obvious, exercise releases endorphins, which can relieve stress and create feelings of well-being in the body, along with a number of other benefits such as bettering self-esteem and regulating anxiety and depression. The benefits of endorphins are valuable to one’s well-being during finals season. 

There are a wide variety of exercises that can release endorphins, so it is all about finding one that makes you feel your best. Perhaps it is taking a walk outside to the monuments or Georgetown (or any other part of DC that you happen to love!), doing some yoga, signing up for a fitness class, renting a bike to ride around the city on, doing a workout video on YouTube, or visiting Lerner to get a workout in. 

2. a nourishing snack or meal

Having a balanced diet is vital for bodily functions to be carried out, such as supporting the immune system or the repair of damaged cells. During stressful times like finals, these functions allow for extra energy to be used to cope with these times. Scientists and research suggest that you make sure to regularly get enough protein, healthy fats, fiber, and fruits to ensure you are feeling your best. 

However, the keyword is balance, so it is also crucial to make sure you are still including some of your favorite foods into your diet, whether or not they are considered “healthy.”

3. Grab a coffee (By yourself or with friends!)

Swing by Starbucks or Peets (or any of your other favorite DC coffee shops) to grab a yummy coffee or tea. Whether you are by yourself or meeting up with friends, the routine of getting a drink can destress and soothe many people, while also providing a little caffeine boost, of course. 

4. get some rest

Rest is vital to your mental health for a number of reasons like improved concentration, immune system, and memory. Although it can be difficult to step away from your work when you feel completely overwhelmed, ensuring you get enough sleep will benefit you in the long run. 

While it is advised to get 7 or more hours of sleep per night, this may not be attainable for students who are balancing a multitude of activities such as class, extracurriculars, and potentially a job, so it is important that students work rest into their day as well, whether that be taking a nap or simply decompressing for a few minutes away from a screen. 

5. Journal or color

Both journaling and coloring are easy ways to destress and allow for some creative expression. Whether you follow a journal prompt or a coloring sheet/book or choose to let your thoughts, ideas, and feelings flow out onto the page, either activity is a great way to prioritize your emotional well-being during a high-stress time. 

6. drink water

The importance of drinking water is commonly known, but this is especially true when your body and mind are under a significant amount of stress. In addition to the many other benefits, water provides the body, it also helps to keep cortisol levels, which are responsible for stress, at lower levels. For those who dislike the taste of water or simply want to liven up their water, try adding fresh fruits, herbs, or a water flavorer like Crystal Light or Mio. 

7. talk to your friends or family

Stepping back from your work and having a light-hearted conversation with a friend or a family member is an excellent way to relieve some stress. A simple conversation does not have to last long, but can truly fulfill so many social, emotional, and mental needs and revitalize you before studying again.

Self-care doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive, just an experience that makes you feel better. And during finals, it is especially important that you are feeling your best so that you can perform your best. While good grades are a priority for many, remember to take time to prioritize yourself this finals season.

Ingrid Hofmann is from Bettendorf, Iowa and a freshman at GW majoring in Political Communication and Spanish. In the future, Ingrid hopes to attend law school and continue journalism writing for various publications about topics she is passionate about as a contributor. In her free time, Ingrid can be found reading, talking walks around DC or hanging out with her friends.
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