College admissions season is stressful. If your to-do list seems never-ending, take a breath and try a few small acts of self-care. Not sure where to begin? Start with this list of easy, effective strategies for maintaining your zen.
1. Spend time outdoors.
If you’re staring at a screen all day (please don't crash, CommonApp.org), you need to take regular breaks from your routine. The benefits of a walk in the fresh air cannot be overstated. Find the nearest park, beach, mountain, or nature path and spend a few hours in the great outdoors. Take deep breaths and train your gaze on the distant horizon. Countless studies have demonstrated the astonishing mental health benefits of spending time in nature, and there’s nothing like taking a good look at the world around you to put things in perspective.
If you love the traditional meditation and breathing techniques offered by Headspace, great! If you find guided meditation a little corny or difficult to get into, there are still plenty of other meditation strategies you can utilize. A warm, distraction-free bath or a walk in the park with your dog can be deeply meditative. Allow yourself quiet time to recharge every single day, even if only for a few minutes. You’ll be ready to rejoin the rat race in no time.
3. Sleep. Seriously, sleep.
It’s old advice, but it’s worth repeating. To function at your peak, you need rest, and if you’re getting less than 7 hours a night, you’re not getting enough. Work your way up to 7-8 hours by increasing your nightly sleep time by 15 minutes each night. If you have to pull an all-nighter, catch up on sleep debt during the weekend.
4. Take real breaks.
Schedule time to connect and laugh with friends and family. Make a plan and stick to it, whether you decide to go out for ice cream, watch a movie, or sit down for a long and hilarious catch-up session. Don't bail on your plan just because you have work to do. Stepping away from your applications and spending time reconnecting with people you love will actually make it easier to get your work done. Why? Because you'll return to your to-do list with fresh eyes and a refreshed, renewed attitude.