Tis the season. Of what, you might ask? Well, the title of this article might be a dead giveaway. Because, before you can go home and enjoy the merriment of the holidays, you first get to deal with the effervescent joy that is finals. And, for quite a few people, the holidays are also time for seasonal depression to set in. While these tips are meant for people struggling with a super fun (sarcasm) hormonal imbalance, they'd work just as well for your average stressed out student.
1. Start your day off right
This one is extremely basic and also extremely difficult. We all have an ideal morning routine in our head. (If you don't, make one now.) You know, the things you daydream about doing. You wake up and stretch, put on slippers, make your bed, sip tea while looking forlornly out the window, etc.
Whatever it is for you, I want you to think it through, start to finish. Say it's roughly a 12 step process. Now evaluate how many of those things you're actually doing every day. Chances are it's only one or two. One way to really kick your crappy feelings in the butt is to show them who's boss. By taking 20 minutes to yourself in the morning and just to do that certain something that makes you feel good, you can shift yourself into a more positive mindset for the rest of the day... or at least for a few hours.
2. Find your version of white noise
One of the hardest parts of dealing with depression and/or anxiety while in school is finding the will and the energy to really focus on something and get it done. One of the easiest ways to avoid the social media slump is to combat the mental fight or flight reflex. Find your white noise. For some people this is actual white noise. For others it’s the sounds of a coffee shop. For me it's the soundtrack from the movie 'If I Stay'. I'm actually listening to it at the moment, and without it, I probably wouldn't be writing this right now.
Find something that you can pop into your ears that will calm you down and drown out everything inside and outside of your head. It takes a while, but once you manage it, it makes a huge difference. If you have no idea where to start, I'd recommend checking out pre-made playlists. For example, Spotify has an entire section of playlists dedicated to studying; ranging in genre from acoustic covers to classical to pink noise (similar to white noise, but apparently different).
3. Take recess
Remember when we were carefree children that had chicken fights on monkey bars? The good ol' days.
Sometimes we really just need a break from our daily routine. Your brain gets too full (not really, of course, but it definitely feels that way) and you just need to step back or your head just might explode (again, not literally).
A classic way of implementing recess into your adult life is to have a 40:20 system: 40 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes of whatever you want, as long as it's not work. Now, the times aren't definite here. You could do 15:15 or 45:15. It could be any combination of numbers, but within reason, of course: there's no point in dedicating yourself to 5 minutes of studying and then a 2 hour Tumblr perusal. You probably already do that; that's why you're reading this. But there really is something to be said for knowing that a break is ahead, and sometimes that small shred of hope is all it takes to push you through that last boring chapter.
This list isn't perfect, and it's far from fully comprehensive, but, in my experience, anything is worth a try if it will help you make it through the most stressful time of the semester, during one of the busiest times of the year. So give one - or all - of these a shot, and who knows, maybe you'll find something you didn't expect. Remember, though, if the depression doesn’t lift once finals and the holidays pass (or even if you’re starting to feel like it’s overwhelming), it’s okay to lean on the people around you. There’s no shame in talking to your doctor or going to your campus’ counseling center to get professional help.