How to practice self-care during the semester that we all need it the most

Stop relying on coffee – it’s time to rely on yourself.

It's that time of year…all the fairy lights, Christmas trees, and wreaths have taken over the city and even our dorm rooms.

Despite all the holiday cheer flowing through Philadelphia and our aesthetically pleasing rooms, we have one little thing between us and winter break: finals.

Not only does this absolutely destroy any and all holiday cheer we could possibly have, but it also can take a major toll on our mental health, as if the last four months didn't do enough of that already.

This semester alone, we have lost five of our own fellow Temple-Made students; two to substance abuse and one to suicide.

Temple students across campus are taking a stand and making changes by forming support groups and interviewing experts on substance abuse and mental health. We get so easily caught up in our overwhelming and hectic schedules throughout the semester that we often forget to take care of ourselves.

While our first priority should always be ourselves, it's been hard to practice self-care as a college student with from deadlines to maintaining healthy relationships, internships, organizations, jobs and whatever other stress we are dealing with outside of the classroom.

To ensure that we are properly taking care of ourselves, here are five simple things you can add to your daily schedule that will help keep you grounded and sane throughout the rest of the semester.

Journaling

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Yes, I know this is the most cliche and over-used self-care tip, but it actually does wonders. Journaling is one of the best ways to get all those thoughts and worries that you carried with you throughout the day off your chest. It's as simple as grabbing a notebook and writing down anything that happened throughout your day, and as soon as you're done, a wave of relief will come over you. The best part about journaling is that it's completely under your control, from the style of writing to decorating the page. Not only does writing down your worries and anxieties help calm you down, but even adding little doodles, pictures, or your favorite colors to the page can be such a simple, yet relaxing activity to add to your daily routine. Despite popular belief, journaling doesn't have to be just about your negative thoughts, write down what you are grateful for each day, or make a list of everything that makes you happy. By releasing your anxieties and reminding yourself of all the amazing and beautiful things you have in your daily life, you will feel so much more grounded and happy, even with your hectic schedule.

Spa Night

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There is no better feeling than coming home from yet another long, hectic day and taking a shower and painting on a face mask. So grab your besties and pull out your favorite Lush face mask, movie, and fuzzy socks, because its time for a much-needed spa night. The first step in this very relaxing spa night is taking a shower to wash off all the stress and anxiety you carry with you throughout the day. Next, put a refreshing face mask on, and while that sits, repaint your nails or put your favorite lotion on. Even just smelling good will instantly put you in a better mood. After the face mask as performed its magic, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. End this perfect spa night by watching your favorite movie with your friends. Spa nights are one of the best ways to remind yourself its okay to step back for an hour or two and just take time to relax. The next morning, you will wake up feeling revived and ready to take the day into your own hands.

The Tab Temple and Her Campus are teaming up this Friday for a Night Owl event featuring DIY lip scrubs, a photo booth, board/card games, cookie decorating, DIY hot chocolate, giveaways (including Diamond Dollars) and tons of food (we're talking Italian food, pizza, subs, drinks, and cookies galore).

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So come out to this if you need a night to relax!

Work Out

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After your nice, relaxing spa night, it's time to get back on the grind and get yourself to the gym. Not only is exercising amazing for your physical health, but it's also crucial for your mental health. Endorphins, chemicals released during exercise, are proven to increase positivity, reported WebMD. We all know the struggle of trying to find the motivation to actually get to the gym, but once you're there and your workout is complete, you will feel re-energized and empowered. Working out is all about going at your own speed, but pushing yourself at the same time. I am absolutely terrible with cardio and I hate everything that has to do with it, especially running. However once I remind myself how amazing I'm going to feel after, running fifteen to twenty minutes doesn't seem so bad anymore. So run all that anger from that one professor you just can't stand off, go one weight up to prove to yourself you can do anything you put your mind too, work all those negative thoughts off and make yourself proud.

Get Enough Sleep

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Ahhh sleep…the one thing that we all want so badly, but just can't seem to have enough of this semester. We all know the importance of sleep and we are cranky and miserable without it, but with all the work, projects, and exams this semester, it was hard to find enough time to get a full nights rest. As a college student, our sanity revolves around our time management. Some people are better than others, but it's something we all should learn how to properly handle. Think about it: if you work on one of your assignments throughout the week, in those classes you don't pay attention in, or during that hour gap you have between classes, you won't have to worry and rush to complete the assignment at 11:00 PM the night before. This is also applicable with studying. Making a Quizlet on Sunday night, and going over it once or twice a day will help you sleep so much better knowing that you are adequately prepared for an exam. I'm not saying I am unfazed by procrastination, I've been there one too many times this semester, but I realized if I just do a little each day, I'll have the assignment or studying complete by the day it's due, without losing any of my valuable beauty sleep.

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Take Study Breaks

We are all under the false impression that in order to pass our exams or the class itself, we have to work and study for hours straight. It's true we have to put in a lot of time and effort to properly pass the class, but studying or working for hours straight is terrible for you. "Over long periods of working, the brain uses up oxygen and glucose, its primary forms of energy", Huffington Post stated. For example, every hour take at least a ten minute break. During that break try to get away from your laptop screen, walk around, and grab a snack and some water. Make sure to never go over the set break time, or you'll never get yourself back to studying. By planning set break times between studying, your brain can rest and you can perform at your highest level.

The first semester back at school can be rough….especially for incoming freshman like me. It takes a lot of patience, time, effort, adjustments, and trial and errors until you finally feel like you belong and got the hang of things. But never, EVER, forget you are in no way alone in any of these emotions. Not only do you have the entire freshman class going through the same frustrations and emotions that you are, but the upperclassman are also experiencing all the same stress and anxiety too. Whether it be through Tuttleman Counseling Center, friends, or your family, you are never alone. Please remember to keep yourself and your mental health in mind throughout the semester Owls.

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