With final papers and exams upon us college students, it can be easy to let the all-nighters, caffeinated jitters, and four hour long procrastination sessions with Youtube and Tumblr get the best of us (okay, maybe that last one is just me). With every finished assignment comes something new to worry about. For me, it becomes a vicious cycle of neglecting myself that ends with my hair, body and soul in a complete mess.

But no matter how busy I feel, I’ve found it extremely helpful to refresh myself before I tackle an assignment or even head to my next class. Not just during exam time, either – just whenever I’m feeling particularly groggy, uncreative, lazy, sad or just plain bored. But I get really nervous when I know I’m procrastinating, so I try to make sure these refreshments feel somewhat… useful, i.e., taking a hot bath and going shopping don’t count. :P

So with that, here are my five favorite productive refreshments! 

1. Work Out - This is my favorite go-to refreshment stand. Whether it’s yoga, cardio, strength training, Pilates, or any combination, I love the feeling of getting my heart rate up and really testing my body. It’s a fantastic way to forget about everything going on in your brain and in your life – and I think it’s safe to forget for about an hour (or two). And you’ll definitely see some return from showing your body a little love. Your brain will respond more quickly, your body will have the stamina to stay up longer, and if you work out before every big assignment and test, you’ll probably be looking pretty good right on time for summer.

2. Pray or Meditate - Praying is a great way to remain centered when you feel like the pressure of academia is destroying the balance in your life. It reminds you what you are grateful for, humbles you, and makes your stress inducers seem pretty insignificant; or at least, not as intimidating. It brings things you don’t normally think about to the forefront of your mind and can remind you what you’re living for. Meditation can do all of these things too, so you can have this experience no matter what your religion.

3. Help someone else - The great thing about college is, everyone’s in the same boat as you, and we can all use a little help. Quizzing your Chem major friend on his flash cards, or reading over your History major friend’s paper, is a nice way to take your mind off of your own studies, help out someone in need, and maybe even get inspired for something you have to write yourself. Then you can return to your work with a fresh mind. Just try not to get confused. And you could even ask for their help in turn, which would be even more productive ;) Helping my little brother with his high school work is a great way to remove myself from the pressures I’m facing and reminds me how far my brain has come!

4. Clean your work space - Whether that be your bedroom at home, your dorm room, or an office, de-cluttering is never the wrong thing to do. Play some upbeat, let’s-get-down-to-business songs, whatever inspires you or just makes you feel refreshed. Dance around, get that blood pumping, and clean as much as you want! Not only will your sparkling new work space inspire you to work, but you can ruminate about the subject you’re going to work on while you’re cleaning – for example, I use times like these to try and come up with a thesis for a looming paper.

5. Sleep - In my world, sleep is a productive activity, because it fuels every other productive activity. Honestly, if it’s 8pm and I’ve been on Tumblr for, well, a while, I know for a fact that I’m not getting any work done for the rest of the night. So what do I do? I turn it in! Sure, I’ll wake up at 4 in the morning, but that’s even better because there’s no one online, or walking around, or awake to distract me. You’ve got the sleep you needed for the night and now you’re ready and refreshed. And you don’t have to do it this way, either. A simple power nap right after a super long class and you should be pumped to hit the library, and you’ll need less sleep for the night. 

Those are my favorites! Enjoy indulging in these guiltless ways to procrastinate refresh yourselves, Lovelies, and good luck with all final exams and papers!

How do you refresh yourself and handle stress?