Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election and the beginning of a new virtual semester, 2020 has definitely been a stressful year. Usually, election stress ends after one night. But, with an increase in mail-in ballots because of the pandemic, results took longer than usual. For five days, Americans anxiously awaited news on the fate of the presidency.
Prolonged stress can take a toll on the body, and after election week, we all need a break. Here are some de-stressing tips and methods that you can incorporate into your busy days.
Spa night At the end of a long week, a spa night can be exactly what your mind and body need to relax. You can even invite a friend for company; virtual spa nights are totally doable too! Arrange with a friend to sit down for a bubble bath, dinner, skincare, a movie or anything that will help you both unwind.
Skincare During stressful times, your skin stresses with you, so a face mask is a spa night essential. A face mask is easy and effective: the perfect fix for your skin after a long week.
For oily and combination skin types, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque is the cure to your clogged pores. Simply apply it to your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), leave the mask on for 10 minutes and wash it off after.
Bath + Shower products When it comes to bubble baths, LUSH has just about everything and anything you could possibly want. Their bath bombs are fun to throw into the water, smell delicious and come in endless varieties. Additionally, lighting a candle and playing relaxing music or rain sounds can really level up your bath experience.
If you are not a bath person, invest in a staple body wash or body scrub! The Philosophy Amazing Grace Shampoo, Shower Gel and Bubble Bath has a light and feminine fragrance that can leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. Taking time to think of small things that make you happy, like the scent of your bath products, can give you something to look forward to relaxing with.
Listen to your body It’s important to listen to your mind and body and recognize when you need a mental health break. You won’t be able to perform at your best if you’re neglecting your needs. Finding activities that help you de-stress is part of the self-care process.
“I do have a tendency to neglect my mental health and prioritize school work, but I’m working on breaking that cycle. I get overworked and that shows through my assignments and the way I behave with my family,” sophomore public health science major Tiffany Akotia said. “Lately, I’ve been cooking and baking at least once a week. It helps me focus my energy into something else that isn’t school in a realm that is comforting.”
Sometimes, self-care is more about routine. Occasionally finding small things that you can do for yourself is important to keep yourself going.
“It recently has been a small goal of mine to put together a routine or even simple remedies that I go by as a means of taking a mental break,” freshman government and politics major Athanasia Katsafanas said. “ I have more time now to take care of myself, however I have less motivation to do so. As far as activities are concerned, I will say that you can never go wrong with naps and I am pleased at the amount of sleep I’ve been getting.”
Although it can be difficult to establish and maintain a self-care routine, the most important thing is to recognize when you need a break. Being a student does not mean that you are not still a person. Remember to check in with yourself and recognize what you need at that time to be healthy.
“I want to remind students that there is no one who can tell you how to live your life right now… It’s okay to be vulnerable here, it's okay to be upset about this,” UMD Mental Health and Stress Management Coordinator Olivia Mays said.
If you don’t know where to start with de-stressing, try out different activities, and do not feel guilty about putting aside time to take care of yourself.
“One thing I found myself doing a lot recently that really helped me de-stress was taking a nice drive. There’s just something so refreshing about having the windows down and your favorite music playing that almost makes you feel like you’re in a music video,” Katsafanas said.
We’re living in very unprecedented times. Life is uncertain, and we have no choice but to take everything one step at a time. Once we recognize that everything is a step-by-step process and that we’re all figuring it out, we can make things easier on ourselves too.
“Instead of trying to control the uncontrollable, let’s work on how we can accept those things, how we can allow ourselves to move past that and not allowing ourselves to fixate on that problem that we can’t do anything about, because that’s exhausting,” Mays said. “When we’re navigating this already very exhausting time, we don't need to spend any more energy on the things we can’t control.”