Surviving Spring Semester

 

I was not ready. SO not ready.

School started today and I’ve already felt the chilly hints of stress tickling the back of my neck. Looking at my first two classes’ syllabi, I recognize that it’s going to be an intense semester of back-to-back-to-back assignments due every week. And we all know how much stress a PWI already puts on this melanin… So strategy is vital to surviving this harsh semester.

And coconut oil.

To start this year, and semester off right I’m giving away my secrets. Or some of them. Personally, I have 9 survival strategies (and a few if-then solutions, I’ll save for later) that I’m ready  to share with the world.

 

[ 1 ]   If you’re going for energy or caffeination, go for the good stuff.

Whether it is drinks (tea, coffee, soda, etc.), food, vitamins or good old-fashion sweat sessions, go for quality over the “quick hit” if and when you can. You may not have access to it, but when you can, if you can DO IT. I can assure you that the less toxins you put in your body, the better you’ll feel in the moment and later on.

[ 2 ]   Speaking of sweat, get a workout in.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of intense exercise, or exercise at all. And I really hate how people use exercising as a way to body-shame and oppress others. But I do know that exercise has wonderful benefits for focus, energy and attention, especially for those experiencing anxiety, stress and even depression.

[ 3 ]   Binge.

It seems like every single advice blog I read warns against detracting your focus but I know firsthand the power of tactile distraction. You need to take time to be mindless–get pulled into a good book series, or a fantastic TV show. Your mind needs a break and you do to; just make sure you do it during a time that doesn’t wind you in you more stressed than before once you’re done.

[ 4 ]   A physical, handwritten planner.

Before you groan at all that writing and synchronizing you’ll have to do with your phone, let me ask you this–how often does your phone die? Because mine dies quickly (half-a-day on average). Not only that, but a lot of professors hate it when they see your fingers twitch towards a phone let alone touch it during class. I used to just do all of it by memory and then, tragically, I forgot an entire class. (Rrreeeaaalllll struggle right there.) Ever since I carry my handy planner everywhere. It’s a great organizational tool.

[ 5 ]   Catalog your resources, and keep a running list of references.

I use a lot of the same references for either background information or use their source lists for a launch pad of potential resources for whatever papers or projects I’ve got going on. Since your final two years are centered around your major, your general foundation of subject matter is the same while the specifics change. Keeping that information handy makes the first few steps of your homework so much easier.

[ 6 ]   PLAYLISTS.

You need music to help you power through. As a Black woman, I’ve found that traversing the campus is reminiscent of that arcade game whack-a-mole–random people popping up with opinions that are intentionally and unintentionally oppressive. A defensive tactic that I’ve used has been headphones. The noise-cancelling kind. Blaring hip hop, R&B and soul.

Build your playlists for your different needs. Personally I have mine created in moods – “Campus”, “Black Femme Supremacy”, “Create”, and etc.

[ 7 ]   Self. Care. Take care of yourself.

It seems like every single advice blog I read warns against detracting your focus but I know firsthand the power of tactile distraction. You need to take time to be mindless–get pulled into a good book series, or a fantastic TV show. Your mind needs a break and you do to; just make sure you do it during a time that doesn’t wind you in you more stressed than before once you’re done.

[ 8 ]   Find your rhythm and make it routine.

I really hate routines, personally. But I recognize the resourcefulness of finding the places where I can hit a studying groove and knock out a paper in an hour. Knowing yourself helps you know decide where to go and how to study when you need to knock out a list of tasks. What I’ve found over the years is that I love different kinds of environments are more conducive to productivity than others and that the changing variable is usually my emotional and mental state. Everyone has tons of advice on how to handle school but what’s most important is to do what works for you.

[ 9 ]   Limit social media.

I love it. It’s wonderfully informative, but it’s also incredibly distracting. Especially when that one random cishet white male you don’t even have mutual friends with comments on your post. We all love the social nature of it, but it’s also important to guard ourselves against the trials of over-taxation.

 

So those are my tips. To get you started, I’ve listed some of my favorite things:

[ 1 ]   Energy – Yogi Tea

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[ 2 ]   Playlist – inspired by “Here” 

[ 3 ]   Planner 

2016 planner

 

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4 thoughts on “Surviving Spring Semester

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