December is a time students tend to look forward to, since it is a break from attending school/university for several weeks. It’s is also a time where international students can look forward to going home and seeing their families and friends.

December, however, can also be a very stressful time for students; exams and deadlines are coming up, while we are trying to find the time to spend with our families. Therefore, at times like this, it is crucial to remember why it is important to slow down for the sake of our mental health, and just how to do so.

Firstly, why is slowing down important?

An abundance of stress leads to physical and emotional exhaustion. Which firstly depletes the quality of the work done on assignments, and more importantly, stress has severe impacts on the human brain.

Chronic stress has been proven to increase the chances of developing a mental illness, changing the brain’s physical structure, killing brain cells, as well as shrinking the areas of the brain associated with metabolism, emotions, and memory.

Therefore, neglecting the brain’s need for balance and rest can lead to damage that is hard to reverse.

How can we avoid stressful conditions during the holidays?

First, acknowledge that you have to get some work done. This will help you avoid ignoring it until the last day. Then, you can make a plan to get a little bit done every day. Learn how to divide the time you have between work, play, and most importantly, rest; it is crucial to remember that our brains need rest, that includes sleep and time away from technology. A lack of rest over stimulates the brain which could lead to mental exhaustion. Learn to take time for yourself everyday where you can wind down, you can stretch, practice meditation, do art, etcetera.

Furthermore, since mental and physical health are deeply connected, it is necessary that you remember to take care of your physical health as well. Make sure to stay hydrated, to sleep and wake up at reasonable times, to eat nutritious food, and try to have some physical activity during the day.

Lastly, acknowledge your mistakes. Assignments are important and deadlines should be respected, but they should in no way come before mental stability. People procrastinate sometimes, and it is important we don’t punish ourselves for it by sacrificing sleep. Instead, you can move around your schedule for the future, to accommodate the work you have to do.

It is very easy to forget about taking care of ourselves in stressful times. However it is important to remember the benefits of self care, and how much our work quality improves when we put our mental health first.

Resources:
– https://www.verywellmind.com/surprising-ways-that-stress-affects-your-brain-2795040
– https://www.google.com/amp/s/chicagohealthonline.com/why-self-care-important/amp/

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