We all somehow get to this point. It’s the middle of the quarter, everyone is stressed about midterms and we all ask ourselves how we let procrastination get to this extreme. This is where we start justifying our actions — especially since the quarter system can go from 0 to 100 real quick. Like, it was syllabus week just yesterday… right?
It’s easy to fall into a rut at this point in the quarter. Everything seems monotonous and routine: class, eat, study, sleep, repeat. The days begin to blur together, and you’ll find yourself struggling to remember what you did yesterday.
The body has a natural, adaptive response to stress that is composed of three stages: alarm, resistance, exhaustion.
If we turn to psychology, this melancholy can be explained by something called the general adaptation syndrome, or G.A.S. G.A.S. is the predictable way the body responds to stress, and the body has a natural, adaptive response to stress that is composed of three stages: alarm, resistance, exhaustion. During the exhaustion stage, the body has run out of its reserve of body energy and immunity. Mental, physical and emotional resources suffer heavily. The body experiences “adrenal exhaustion.” The blood sugar levels decrease as the adrenals become depleted, leading to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and collapse.
But you don’t have to let this low-point get the best of you. Sometimes, all it takes is re-centering yourself back into the present. The present is a fleeting time in our lives, and it’s important to embrace, enjoy and remember it. In this fast-paced world of immediate gratification and worry about the past and future, we forget about how fortunate we really are.
The second step to overcoming this rut is to step away from obligations and do something enjoyable and unique. I’m not talking about a study break in the form of Netflix or a party — you do that every weekend. Get back into a hobby you haven’t done in a while, try something new or even just try a new restaurant. Whatever it is, do something that can get your undivided attention because you’ve never done it before. This will clear your mind from everything that has been the source of this melancholy, and will put you in a better mood.
It’s important to take a day or two every few weeks to put yourself back on track and have a vision of what matters. Whether you maintain this routine after you center yourself or you regress back into routine and have to repeat this process every few weeks is up to you.
Good mental health is the most important aspect of life and should have priority over everything else. Take care of yourself before you take care of that midterm. If it weren’t important, the university wouldn’t offer as many services to us as it does to promote good mental health. Buddha eloquently puts it, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Additionally, anyone feeling a bit down after this Valentine’s Day weekend should remember that one socially constructed day out of the year shouldn’t dictate how you feel. Similarly, never let another person dictate how you feel. Life is lived by only one person, and that person is you, because no one else can live life for you.
So the next time you find yourself in a low point, remember that it is a normal part of life. We all go through a cycle of ups and downs — it’s what makes us human. Let yourself feel, and let yourself feel human. But don’t forget to bring yourself back to reality and center yourself once again. If you can start to recognize when you’ve stopped caring about the present and are only concerned with the past or future, then you’re already halfway there. Take a day to yourself. Treat yo’self.
Ben Nguyen is about to treat hisself. Believe that.