I’ve reached that point in the semester when I can’t go a few days without someone casually making note of how many weeks remain. That single digit sum is truly terrifying. Now, that huge research paper that once felt so very far away is suddenly looming, quite clearly, on the horizon. While I’m certainly not exempt from this sensation, with several finals periods behind me, I’ve been able to develop a modest survival guide.
1. Water, tea, coffee.
I didn’t start drinking caffeine until college, but I still like to reserve the heavy stuff for extreme circumstances only. I always carry a full bottle of water to try and stay hydrated (especially when I impulsively decide on that second slice of Haffner pizza). Green tea not only has ton of health benefits, but it also provides a more manageable dose of caffeine to help get the morning started. Coffee is strictly reserved for finals.
2. Wake up early.
This took me forever to get the hang of, but it really does help. My freshman year I made the foolish decision to have French every morning at 9 am. Suffice to say, it was not ideal. Since then, I’ve had the leisure of having later classes, but I still find it beneficial to schedule myself for work shifts in the morning. This helps me regulate my cycle so I don’t oversleep and gives me a few hours to get moving before class. Also, the egg station at Erdman is top notch if you’re up early enough for it!
3. Don’t stay up all night.
I get it. There are times when one must simply do everything. But I also know from experience that I just stop being productive after 2 am or so. My brain turns to mush and I’m forcing myself to stay awake despite zero productivity. Go to bed. Your body needs sleep and you can always try to wake up early in the morning (the adrenaline rush helps!). All-nighters really mess with my system for weeks, so I try to avoid them if I can help it.
4. Slow down before bed.
Although this isn’t always plausible, try to save 15-30 minutes of personal time before bed. Maybe read something purely for fun (aka not assigned for class!), watch a little Netflix, do stretches, etc. I recently received some kava tea in a care package that’s been doing wonders. It’s incredibly soothing and stress-relieving.
5. Stock up on snacks!
Snacks are a womyn’s best friend. I always try to grab an extra piece of fruit or two from the dining halls, but I’m also a fan of nuts and trail mix. It’s not too messy, but helps tide me over late at night.
6. Bonus tip: Eat ice cream on Carpenter beach!
In the warmer months, get a cone of soft-serve to-go and walk it over to Carpenter beach. It’s a great way to relax and get a few minutes of vitamin d before plunging into the depths of the library.
While everyone has their own system of survival, I wish I would’ve known at least one or two of these as an incoming freshman. Coming from a rural public high school, I honestly never had to try very hard to get my work done. Since arriving at Bryn Mawr, I really had to evaluate my work pattern and time management. Though I still like to sleep in here and there, these small changes have made a huge impact in my daily wellness and self-care.