I am so glad that December 1st is on a Friday! Fridays are obviously great because they mark the end of the work week and the start of a (hopefully) relaxing weekend. Fridays are also the perfect day to start practicing some self-care habits that will get you through the end of the semester.
Here, I’ve compiled a list of little things you can do each day to reduce finals-week-induced stress:
(Scroll down to see it in chart form)
December 1: Meditate for five minutes.
Don’t try to “clear your mind”. You’re not “doing it wrong”. Don’t focus on how to sit. Just position yourself somewhere comfortable and take deep breaths. Congratulate yourself for making it through the week.
December 2: Eat that frog!
Do something that’s been on your to-do list for too long. Start early in the day and don’t stop until your one task is done. As Brian Tracy wrote in Eat That Frog!, “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a [hypothetical] live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!”
December 3: Plan your week.
Take about 5 minutes to think about what you have going on this week. What do you have to prepare for? What’s due this week? Bonus points if you write it down in a planner!
December 4: Eat a nice breakfast.
While calling it the most important meal seems more like a marketing gimmick from breakfast food companies, you should still try to eat something filling and nutritious before you start your day. You’ll feel better when you’re not hungry.
One of my favorite breakfast foods is overnight oats! They’re easy to prepare the night before, so all you have to do is grab and go!
December 5: Wear something you know looks good.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
December 6: Block/mute at least one person on social media.
If you love seeing everything your friends and family
overshares posts, then great! You’re exempt from this one. (You can just meditate again). If you’re not as lucky, then you have those people who insist on trying to explain why their political identity is superior or why if you don’t do _____, you’re wrong. The thing about social media is that you can choose who is part of your experience. Just block them.
December 7: Get out of the house!
You don’t need to have a destination in mind. Take a relaxing walk without music and just listen to the sounds around you. (If the sounds stress you out, then opt for some relaxing music).
Bonus: If you go out on a clear, cloudless night, then try to look at the stars. One of the most recognizable (and currently visible) constellations is Orion the Hunter.
December 8: Try a cool, new face mask.
A face mask is a great way to relax for 10-20 minutes. You can meditate during this time or just close your eyes and rest.
December 9: Eat some chocolate.
Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) contains antioxidants and has various health benefits. It can help improve blood flow to certain parts of the brain, which leads to reduced memory decline. It can also help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
December 10: Buy yourself flowers.
If you don’t like flowers, then buy yourself something else you appreciate looking at or seeing in your home.
December 11: Throw away/donate 1-3 things you don’t use as often.
I’ve spoken before about my experience reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The main takeaway from this book is that people have too much stuff. De-cluttering your home (through Marie Kondo’s method) serves to not only free up physical space but also leads you to make lifestyle changes that will never let your home be cluttered again. Seriously.
The KonMari method might be a bit extreme for some people since it requires you to set aside a few hours to go through literally ALL of your belongings. Try it out with just one specific category (like sweaters or ball-point pens).
December 12: Take a nap. (It doesn’t have to be long)
I really hate when people try to brag about how little sleep they get. It’s not healthy. There are no awards for getting the least sleep. You’re doing a huge disservice to your brain and body by not sleeping enough.
That being said, I know that we can’t help it sometimes, especially near the end of the semester when each week is full of deadlines. Because of that, it’s hard to make sure you’re getting a full 8 hours each night.
December 13: Drink more water.
You know you’ll be drinking A LOT of coffee during finals week. While coffee is delicious, it causes you to be more dehydrated. So make sure you drink lots of water to replace what you’re losing!
December 14: Exfoliate!
Exfoliating your skin regularly will make you look better in a way that makeup cannot replicate. There are two main ways of exfoliating: physically and chemically. When you use an abrasive face wash (think: apricot scrub), you’re exfoliating your face on a physical level. While this can make your face feel smoother immediately after, you’re actually doing quite a bit of damage to your skin. Harsh scrubs can cause micro-tears in your skin. If you still want the scrubby feeling, then try a DIY version with sugar. Sugar is less rough on your skin than many store-bought exfoliants.
Another option is chemical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation is less satisfying because you don’t always feel like it’s working but it really is effective! My favorite chemical exfoliant is Juice Beauty’s STEM CELLULAR Exfoliating Peel Spray. All you do is (carefully!) spray it onto your face and rub it in, in small circular motions. You can literally see and feel your dead skin coming off!
December 15: Go to bed early.
Friday doesn’t mean you HAVE to go out and do something. Take this chance to catch up on sleep by going to bed at least an hour earlier.
December 16: Write a letter (to a friend or yourself).
If you know me, then you’ll know that a have a couple of pen pals with whom I exchange letters with regularly. (Read more about how I got them here.) I think writing letters can be a very relaxing experience because it’s not something I do every day. It’s nice to think about how far my letter will travel after I send it.
If you don’t have a pen pal, then you can write your letter to yourself. It can be about anything! (how your day went, things your concerned about, etc.)
December 17: Pick out your clothes for the next day.
I”m not the type of person who can just pick whatever smells clean. If I don’t pick out my clothes in advance, then I can spend a lot of time trying to make that decision in the morning (when I’m tired and slow). This leads me to be late leaving the house, which is never a good way to start the day.
Do your future self a favor and pick out your clothes the night before.
December 18: Try out a new coffee shop.
There’s more to coffee than what you would find at your local Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Try to visit a coffee shop you’ve never been to before. How does it compare to the place you usually go?
December 19: Do something nice for someone.
You don’t have to do anything big or complicated. It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or giving someone an honest compliment.
December 20: Write a list of three people you’re grateful for.
They could be someone who helped you with something or someone who you look up to. (It can even be yourself! I know I’m really grateful for how resilient I am in hard situations.)
December 21: Eat your favorite food.
Nothing beats a $1 slice of New York pizza.
December 22: Watch a new show or movie.
There are so many great new shows on Netflix, Hulu, etc. Recently, I started watching She’s Gotta Have It and Parks and Rec.
December 23: Do your nails!
Even if you don’t wear nail polish, you can clean up your cuticles and moisturize your hands. You’ll look better and people will notice.
December 24: Clean your home.
Few things stress me out more than seeing a messy room. When everything is in it’s place, you won’t be distracted by thoughts of having to work around the mess or having to clean it later. Take a few minutes to put things away, even to a temporary location if necessary.
December 25: Share with others.
You’ve likely noticed by now that my self-care calendar lines up with the usual Christmas advent calendars. I did this for the sake of simplicity but even if you don’t celebrate Christmas as a special day (I certainly don’t), you can still make it a point to share with others, whether you share gifts or just hang out with your friends and family and share memories.
Here’s a bubble chart with all of the same information: