In the final week before the long-awaited fall break, it’s important to have strategies to cope with heightened levels of stress due to midterm exams, projects and papers. 

While some students enjoy taking walks in the brisk autumn air, spending time with their friends or watching their favorite show to get through these trying times, my personal favorite method is to give myself a little treat. 

I’ll explain how the strategy works. After getting out of class, completing a homework assignment or writing three more sentences of the 10-page paper I have due next week, I love nothing more than waltzing down to Java Junction and grabbing a toasted asiago cheese bagel with a side of cream cheese. 

Of course, with the ever-shortening days and cold winds, the trip back to my room can be uncomfortable enough that I have to curl up in a blanket with a little bag of popcorn and watch a show to recover. 

This process can take upwards of an hour and cut into my homework hours, which can inadvertently increase stress by reducing time to complete my responsibilities. So, naturally, I have to break into my stash of goldfish and give myself a little treat to combat it.

“It’s more of a lifestyle than it is … about any one little treat,” said Fatima Zahara, famed “little treat” enthusiast, while holding their seventh Java Junction coffee (referred to as a “drinky-drink”) this week. 

“People don’t realize that you have to put a lot of thought and effort into maintaining this sort of mindset, and all that effort obviously makes you deserve a little treat.” 

When asked if giving yourself a little treat detracts from other, more scientifically-researched methods of self-care and if it could negatively impact one’s ability to practice self-regulation, Zahara had this to say: “Nuh-uh.”

Realizing the power of giving myself a little treat hasn’t always been easy. As I indulged more and more frequently, I started to question the validity of my habit. Is this healthy? Am I destroying any ability to ignore my impulses? Does this just feed into capitalism’s obsession with material pleasure, promising instant gratification while denying any  sense of long-term fulfillment, leaving my friends, family and life aspirations behind so I can gorge on some fruit snacks and ignore my responsibilities under the guise of “treating myself”?

But this train of thought was really stressful and took a lot of energy, so I had to stop thinking and give myself a little treat.

But hey, giving yourself a little treat isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to shake off materialism’s grasp and deny themselves a little treat after an accomplishment. That’s also valid, and you can be proud of yourself for exercising such restraint! 

That’s truly a reason for celebration. And the best way to celebrate, I’ve found, is to give yourself a little treat.