De-stress before the test

10 self-care activities you can do between study sessions

Self-care is taking care of yourself the same way you take care of the important people in your life. It’s doing things that are good for you, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or anything else. When exams and essays start piling up, it’s important to take a little bit of time to look after yourself. Below are 10 suggestions of quick and easy self-care activities.

  1. Do a 15-minute meditation
    Meditation can be as simple as sitting down, taking a few deep breaths, and letting your mind wander. No candles, incense, or soft music needed (but encouraged, if you like that sort of thing!) You can also YouTube guided meditation if you feel that would help.
  2. Take yourself out for something enjoyable
    Sometimes we feel like we need other people to go out for food or do something fun with us, but spending quality time with yourself can be just as rewarding. Pick something you want to do — go to a restaurant, go shopping, go for a massage, go to a museum, etc. — and do it alone.
  3. Watch a show that makes you laugh out loud
    When was the last time you laughed until your sides actually hurt? (Note: laughing that turns into crying around this time of year doesn’t count.) Whether it’s The Office, Parks and Recreation, Family Guy, or whatever your cup of tea is, take a short break from those humourless assignments to indulge a little.  
  4. Get yourself a comforting meal
    Urban Dictionary defines comfort food as “food that is not only comforting to the taste buds, but all the other senses.” Suggestions: something that’s warm and chocolate-y, like fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. If fresh fruit and veggies do it for you, though, make yourself a fruit salad or a stir fry. You could even try a recipe your mom always makes — whatever makes you feel like you’re getting a comforting hug.
  5. Take a hot shower or bath
    Tips for extra indulgence: lavender-scented products, a relaxing playlist, candles, bubbles, and bubbly (if you’re old enough, just stick to bubbles.)
  6. Book an appointment with a counsellor
    Now, before you think to yourself “I don’t need a counsellor, my issues aren’t that big,” allow me to make my case. All of us have things that bother us, or make us anxious or sad sometimes, and therapists can help you not only explore all those feelings, but give you useful tips to manage them. Talking in length about how you’re feeling can give you valuable self-knowledge. There are lots of free and low-cost counselling services in Vancouver and Burnaby which you can find through Vancouver Coastal Health or this government website. Of course, there’s always SFU Health and Counselling, too.
  7. Vent to somebody you trust
    If I haven’t convinced you of how beneficial therapists can be, find a friend, a sibling, a parent, or anybody you feel comfortable talking to and just let out all your thoughts.
  8. Take a nap
    Pretty self-explanatory, right?
  9. Make a list on a topic that makes you feel good
    It can be a list of your aspirations, a list of the people you care about, a list of things you’re grateful for today, etc. It may feel silly or juvenile, but focusing on positive things and visualizing them on paper can provide a surprising amount of comfort.
  10. Go for a walk in the fresh air
    Hopefully you don’t mind the rain or the cold (probably not, because you live in Vancouver). Bundle up, grab an umbrella, bring some earbuds, make a playlist, and get ready to breathe some non-library fresh air.

Be a little selfish this exam season and take good care of yourself, everyone!