With the semester winding down and finals approaching at an uncomfortable speed, finding ways to relax and decompress are essential. Stress from school can take a toll on one’s body. Not to mention, having to do all of this while living in a pandemic is a whole other level of stress. So, here’s a list of ways to take a break and breathe before having to take that final you’ve been dreading for months!

Exercise — I know, I know, not what everyone wants to hear, but the benefits of exercise should not be ignored. Exercise helps to increase the level of endorphins in your body, which are known as the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Not only can endorphins help to lift your spirits, but they can also help you sleep better, which is essential in maintaining good grades. Now that the weather is nice (some days), take a stroll in the nature preserve or around the housing communities. The fresh air will do you wonders and help to give your SUNY Harvard brain a break!

Let’s talk about self care! Try out that face mask you saw on TikTok, get your nails done or take an extra-long shower. Self care is whatever makes you feel good, so this one is up to you. One of my favorite ways to decompress is to get my nails done in a bright color. I love being able to step away from school and take a few minutes to myself. Plus, whenever I look down at my hands, the bright shade of nail polish cheers me up and reminds me to take a break. Ulta Beauty is only a short drive or bus ride away from campus and has loads of options for face masks, lotions and nail polish to suit your needs and wants!

Food is another great way to care for yourself during finals week. Not only are nutrients from food essential for brain and body health, but cooking and baking can be a great way to de-stress. Muffins and brownies are a sweet treat that are hard to mess up. If you’re in need of a healthy meal, try cooking something with pomegranates, broccoli, blueberries or salmon, which are shown to have long-term positive effects on your brain. Not a fan of cooking? Downtown Binghamton has several restaurants that will give you a break from less-than-desirable dining hall food.

Finally, give your mom, dad, best friend or family member a call! Not only will it help to raise your spirits, but I am sure they want to hear your voice too. I know from experience it can be easy to default to the same topics about roommate problems, gross dining hall food or move-out plans, but try to talk about something that makes you happy — maybe an upcoming vacation, summer plans or about your pets you haven’t seen in awhile. Regardless of what the topic might be, a phone call home will offer you a break from studying and will hopefully lift your spirits from the stress of the semester.

This year has been exceedingly stressful for everyone, let alone having to navigate all this while in college. In just a few short weeks we will all be released from our classes and be able to give our brains a rest. But in the meantime, take a walk, bake a cake or call your mom and remember to be kind to yourself!