Students and faculty are starting to hit that point in the semester when assignments begin to pile up, whether that be to complete or to grade, respectively. You might find yourself struggling to find time to decompress or to just catch your breath. 

Here is a list of activities you can do during the school day to take a break and allow some valuable self-care time. 

1. Make a list 

Whether it be a grocery list or a to-do list, take a moment and reflect on where you are. Tread lightly when making a to-do list. You can easily overwhelm yourself with tasks laid out in front of you, so remember to focus on what you can accomplish then and there. 

If you’re feeling stressed in class, have a stack of Post-It Notes and write out a grocery list or books you want to read over the weekend. Rather than adding more stress to the situation, make lists of manageable activities that aren’t school related. 

2. Dance 

This may sound ridiculous, but that’s the point. Do something spontaneous and unapologetic. Move your body around — let it flow the way that feels right. Release all the tension you have been holding in your shoulders and chest. 

Dance by yourself. Dance with others. Dance in public. Dance in the privacy of your own room. It’s freeing to let loose around a total group of strangers. 

3. Grab a bite to eat 

It’s easy to get irritated or have low blood sugar from not eating all day. Make time to fuel your body and mind. It’s important to take care of your mental health, but also your physical health.

WKU’s dietitian, Corey Eakins, is someone you can reach out to and schedule an appointment with if you’re struggling with establishing a good diet on campus. 

If you’re too anxious to eat a whole meal, grab a snack from P.O.D Market or from home and take a minute to yourself and recharge before returning to your tasks.

4. Listen to your favorite song

Put on your headphones and blast your favorite feel-good song. Maybe avoid the existential crisis induced by Mitski or Phoebe Bridgers, but try something more upbeat and heart-warming like Harry Styles or Dr. Dog.

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Sing along. Dance. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment. Let your assignments and deadlines go for a few minutes and enjoy this moment. 

5. Find a non-school related task

Read a book for pleasure or take some time to write; whatever your outlet is, indulge. If you’re  musically-inclined, play your instrument, or if you’re artistic, get creative with your preferred medium.

Sometimes doing laundry or making dinner is a great way to relax after a long day at school. Self-care can be as simple as making your bed or cleaning a part of your room. Accomplishing smaller tasks may motivate you to do bigger projects or get you ready to take on some homework. 

6. Indulge in a little social media or streaming time 

Mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or watching your favorite Netflix show can be a vital way to get your mind off stress. Maybe avoid dark crime shows and watch something that will make you laugh like “Parks and Recreation” or “Palm Springs.” Regardless of your guilty pleasure media platform, take some time for yourself. 

Sometimes scrolling through Twitter or Instagram to catch up on what your friends have been up to is another way to take your mind off school for a little bit.

7. Talk to your professors and teaching assistants

Reach out to your professors or TAs if you’re struggling in a class. They are there to guide you in your education. You shouldn’t have to pick and choose between academic success and mental health. 

Maybe your studying habits haven’t been as effective as you had anticipated. Asking for help shouldn’t be shameful. Being honest about where you are and where you want to be with your professor is important for setting yourself up for success down the road.

If you feel that your stress is too much to handle, try setting up an appointment at the WKU Counseling Center. They have great resources that include individual counseling, group counseling, clinical testing, sexual assault response to help students manage the messy line between school and personal life.

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