In the Loop
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Lila Gaffney / Columbia Daily Spectator

As final exams and paper due dates draw nearer, and consequently, as the hours in Butler and trips to Blue Java pile up, mental health and self-care are ever more important. Though we at Spectrum acknowledge that it’s especially difficult to take some time for yourself at an institution with an infamous stress culture, see if you can forgo the 11th hour of studying this finals season to instead try some of our self-care suggestions.

Get out and about

It’s all too easy to spend these last few class days and reading week stuck in the stacks, poring over textbooks and triple-checking final papers. But don’t forget the importance of getting out and grabbing some vitamin D for your body and soul. Whether it be a long run in Central Park, an hour suntanning on South Lawn, or even better, grabbing a few friends and attending GreenFest this Friday on Furnard Lawn to socialize and cop some free Dig Inn, Insomnia, and smoothie bike goodness all in one go, taking some time away from your schoolwork can put you in a better mood and actually make you more productive when you finally return.

Take advantage of free museum Friday

Looming deadlines and long nights can make it all too easy to forget why many of us chose Columbia and Barnard in the first place. While May means that finals season begins in less than 10 days, it also means that those of us not staying in the city this summer only have two or three more weekends left here in the Big Apple. As a cultural epicenter, one of New York’s biggest assets is its museums, and this Friday, the artistically inclined among us are in luck: The Frick Collection, located on East 70th Street, which normally costs $12 for admission, is free this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., as is the Museum of Modern Art from 4 to 8 p.m.

Spread out your studying

As anyone who’s attempted to pull two consecutive all-nighters can attest, cramming is among the most unpleasant study strategies. It can also wreak havoc on your mental and physical health by putting added pressure on already frayed nerves. Rather than waiting until the last minute, get out your calendar and check out this article to make a savvy self-care study schedule.

Take a day for yourself during reading week

We all need days dedicated to sleeping in, unwinding, and having some good-natured fun, and what better time is there for such a day than during reading week? Next week, celebrate getting through classes by getting together with some friends and spending a day getting lost in the city. We hear that the weather’s been getting warmer, so perhaps hit up some thrift stores to refresh your look on a budget. We also hear that Avengers: Endgame, and the new season of Game of Thrones, are fantastic, so take a night to visit a theater or gather in the common room to get in some good old cinema.

Get in those zzz’s

Sleep is a necessity we here in MoHi don’t get nearly enough of, even on the reg. Though we don’t have the official stats, we can only guess by the number of people burning the midnight oil in Milstein and Butler that our already few hours of shut-eye fall precipitously during finals season, wrecking our judgement and putting us at higher risk for burnout. So, this finals season, buck the trend: Go to bed at a reasonable time and aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. Instead of relying solely on those Yerbas, take some nap breaks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If stress is significantly affecting your day-to-day functioning, reach out to the mental health resources that Columbia and Barnard offer. In addition to formal appointments, consider taking advantage of drop-in counseling hours at both Columbia and Barnard. Additionally, don’t shy away from asking to reschedule final exams or get extensions on final papers. Though we can’t promise that they’ll agree, many professors are sympathetic to mental health struggles. And, regardless of the outcome, reaching out on behalf of your sanity is always worth the effort.

Staff writer Michelle Zhuang can be contacted at michelle.zhuang@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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