Edit desk: Take time for yourself


Madison Peterson-Porta

With four o’clocks in full swing, stress levels are on the rise.

Didn’t winter break feel like it was just last week?

Before midterm season came around, less classwork meant more time for yourself. It meant time to exercise, time to relax and time to generally de-stress. But with the onset of midterms and a drastically increased workload, you may have less time for yourself, which directly correlates to an increased stress level and decreased studying efficiency.

But we are Lehigh students. We sign on for this workload. With this in mind, it is still extremely important to take time for yourself, especially to make sure that your grades stay at the level you want them to be. In my opinion, the best way to do this is by taking small breaks periodically to focus on yourself and remove yourself from certain pressures.

For me, the first round of four o’clocks is always the most stressful. They are always held within the fourth and fifth weeks of classes. To some, this might mean four or five weeks to prepare for the exam, but for me, it actually means about two, maybe three because of late book purchases.

As an international relations and journalism double-major, many of my professors encourage students to purchase their textbooks online because of the bookstore’s high prices. While certain professors send out required texts a couple weeks before classes, many do not. If most students are like me, they will only order the books if they are positive they’ll stick through the entire course. Many students may find themselves adjusting their entire schedules to fit in that one class needed for their major.

I appreciate that some professors foresee this delay and upload the first couple weeks’ worth of reading assignments to our course site. But others don’t recognize this delay even upon recommending that they purchase their textbooks elsewhere.

I am one of the students who has listened to this advice and have had to catch up on readings after my textbooks finally arrived. Consequently, I am forced to play catch-up until the first exam. This catch-up not only adds to my stress, but it severely limits the amount of time I can take for myself and relax.

I personally have also loaned my textbooks to classmates who also didn’t receive one of the books until after their first exam.

As a double major and student with various other commitments on and off campus, I know how important it is to take 30 minutes a day, no matter what is due, to exercise or take a nap. It is important to do something that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the next activity. Those thirty minutes are really worth it.

In this hectic period, it’s common to forget that your mental health is just as important as your school ethic. There is no shame in needing a break from school or studying or anything that you have going on in your life.

For example, I know that when I’m studying for exams, I can sit down to study in the morning and have the day fly by without standing up from your books.

This is unbelievably unhealthy for both your mind and your body. Even if it’s just getting up to walk around or scrolling through social media on your phone, take those ten to fifteen minutes.

You deserve a break.

I have found a personal escape from this pressure through running, and I don’t have to go outdoors. Why run on these hills when you can hop on a treadmill and watch a TV episode on Netflix as you exercise? After all, it makes the time go by faster.

While running might not be everybody’s cup of tea, studies by the American Psychological Association have shown that exercise directly correlates with increased levels of relaxation and happiness. Exercise produces endorphins — brain chemicals that act as natural painkillers and improve sleep while reducing stress. Setting aside those thirty minutes to an hour to go to the gym can really help de-stress the mind and prepare you to go back to the library and finish studying.

If exercise isn’t for you, then meditation, massage therapy, reading or even breathing deeply have been proven to produce endorphins and lower stress.

During studying, it may feel like any time you take off will be detrimental to your grade, but this is not true. Taking breaks is important and the time you allow yourself to de-stress will pay off.

After giving yourself a break, you will go back to studying and discover that your brain is refreshed and you’re learning and reviewing things in a more efficient manner.

Madison Peterson-Porta, ’19, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]

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