The Freshman Condition
Here I sit, 5:30 in the Monday morning, clattering away on my laptop in the Thurston basement accompanied by one other solitary studier who I keep forgetting exists until he startles me by coughing loudly. My back hurts, my head hurts, my eyes are dry and their lids heavy. Even my hands seem to ache from the hours of writing and typing– oh god, am I getting carpal tunnel??– as I wonder how I got myself here. Around 4-ish, ousted from my dorm by a sleep deprived roommate, I made my trek down here, mentally compiling yet another list of what needed to be done to get through the upcoming week: advising appointments, business plan revision and presentation, several readings and posts in various courses, a French oral midterm to prepare for (one which I will be taking in roughly twelve hours now), the new UW essay, econ and math problem sets, and studying for my very last midterm to be taken in seven short days. I’ve noticed over the last few days that, while I haven’t given any of these things too much thought, their presence has been unequivocal. I’ve been up until at least four every night this week and during the day I’m fixating on mundane tasks (this evening it was sorting all my spare change into piles according to value). Stress: it does crazy things to you. So, figuring that at least half of you are, if not in the same exact boat, then at least in some form of aquatic vessels, I tried to do a little research on the matter, thinking I’d find some magical answer to post. Unfortunately, everything I found was just common sense or personally impractical. They ranged from “wearing comfortable clothing”, to meditating, to eating foods rich in certain enzymes or that naturally boost melatonin. Personally, I try to stick to a routine (brush, floss, wash face, etc.), write extensive lists of anything I can’t get out of my mind (I find it helps with stress and fixation), and pop in the headphones and pull up Netflix (it distracts me and keeps my mind from running in about 80 different directions at once) but lately, this hasn’t seemed to be quite enough. Proof of fact that I’m sitting down in this somewhat eerie basement at 5:40 completely wired, aching, dizzy, exhausted, and dying to go lay down on my oh-so-soft bed, if only for three hours before I have to wake up and go to class. What works best when one just needs to fall asleep? Is it yoga and a warm glass of milk as suggested by one article? Or perhaps reading for thirty minutes in a warmly lit room as proposed by yet another? Maybe it’s the melatonin pills that friends of mine have been known to take, who knows? So I pose two questions to you: Firstly, what do you do when it’s getting late and you need the shut-eye? Are there any proven methods out there that anyone would like to share? And secondly, how do you deal with stress? Do you confront it or mitigate it and which methods seem to work best with either of these approaches?