As we enter the holiday season, we also enter the most stressful school season. Midterms, assignments, tests and exams start pilling up, and days seem to become longer, sleep times shorter, and meals non-existent. We often forget to take care of ourselves properly. We thrive off of coffee and snack packs and sleep through our lectures. To keep ourselves happy and healthy, we need more self-care in our lives.

While self-care seems to be shown as putting on a facemask and posting a story about it from the bath, there's way more depth to the practice. When you take care of your body, you take care of our mind and soul, and trust me—you’ll need those to get through exam season.

1. Walk it out 

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Sometimes the simplest thing can be the most rewarding. It’s easy to get caught up in tasks you’re doing. Before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day on an essay, it’s not done, you’re cranky, and you've forgotten to eat.

Taking breaks by going for a walk will calm you down and give you the pick me up you need. Outside in the fresh air, you will feel re-energized and have the focus to work.

2. Get some Zzz's

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As we all know, one of the most important things for your body is to have enough sleep. We’ve all sat in a lecture half awake, and I’m sure most of us have fallen asleep in one too. Not getting enough sleep will make you tired and wreak havoc on your immune system, your focus, your metabolism, your body, and your brain.

Getting enough sleep throughout the week and not just sleeping away your weekend will ensure you can stay on top of your life, and actually are awake for your lecture.

3. Do a facemask

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Sometimes the most basic self-care techniques work best! Facemasks are a super fun and easy way to de-stress and add some fun to a busy week. Most masks are only used for 10-20 minutes, and wash or peel off easily. They purify, detoxify, and brighten your skin, and come in all colours and forms which are sure to improve your mood!

4. Scrub up!

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There’s a reason the big bubble bath has become a self-care meme. Taking a relaxing shower or a soothing bath can be one of the most calming and settling things for your body. Not only are you getting clean (another plus) but you are relaxing relieving tension. Warm water is soothing and can even make you sleepy enough to get a well-deserved nap!

5. Tidy your space

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I know cleaning up after yourself seems like a chore you never want to do, but it’s good for your mind and your health! Even tidying up your room can bring you a sense of organization and calm. When you clean your space, you work better. Having a chance to make your room look put together lets you focus yourself and concentrate on the important tasks.

When you have time, giving your room a quick wipe down will also help prevent you from getting sick and keep you healthy!

6. Read a book 

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There’s a reason we all have fond memories of those Scholastic book fairs from elementary school—books are your friends. I know we all get tired from reading textbook after textbook and sometimes you probably think your eyes are going to fall out of your head.

However, reading a book takes your mind off everything and takes you to a different place. It stimulates your brain while giving you a break, and promotes creativity and learning. It can give you ideas and inspiration to help with essays and assignments, as well as the much-needed break you deserve.

7. Check it off 

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It’s hard to manage your stress when you’re constantly forgetting, remembering, and worrying about what you have to do next. One of the best ways I found to settle my mind was to make a weekly to do list! Every Sunday, I sit down and write all the assignments, tests, papers, meetings etc. that I have that week, and when they’re all due. This way, I can plan out my time and not put extra stress on myself because I forgot about something again.

Knowing the tasks you have to complete lets you figure out when you have to be working and when you can actually relax, and it’s fun to cross everything out when you finish it!

8. Meal prep

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Eating well is one of the most important things for your health. When you're so busy that you don't eat nutritious foods, your body suffers. Sometimes, your friends can remind you to nourish yourself (thanks for the fruit, Kemi!) but most of the time it's up to you to keep your health a priority.

Meal prepping sounds like something that only fitness bloggers do, but it's surprisingly easy. By having meals already prepared, you know you’re eating good food when you’re on the run and keeping your body and mind happy.

9. Laugh it out

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They say laughter is the best medicine for a reason! Laugher gets your endorphins going and makes you happier (obviously), de-stresses you, and just lets you have a little fun. When you’re laughing, you give yourself a break from the stresses of everyday life. It’ll boost your mood which will boost your energy, and it’ll leave you feeling better as a whole.

10. Watch a movie 

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Need to be whisked away from life completely for a few hours? Grab some buds, get cozied up, and head to Netflix to grab the break you need. Sometimes just sitting and watching a movie can take your mind off of things for just a little bit.

A movie doesn’t require much work to pay attention, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. It’s also a great break for when you need to get out of the house for a little—just find a great movie playing in the theatres!

11. Visit your friends 

Woman, friends, laughing and golden hour HD photo by Priscilla Du Preez (@priscilladupreez) on Unsplash

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Speaking of friends, they are an amazing source of calm in your life. We all need friends for a reason. Your friends are sometimes your only sense of immediate support in university. Your friends are the people you eat with, live with, work with, and play with; it's important to build these relationships and enjoy them when you can.

12. Call your parents 

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One of the most difficult things about being away at school is being away from your family. Take it from someone who has lived in Kingston all her life; even if you're only twenty minutes away, you're still going to miss your parents. One of the biggest lessons I've learned this year was that even just a five-minute phone call with a loved one can make your day 100% better.

Sometimes you just want to have a conversation with someone who you can vent to, rant to, and listen to. Your family can always be counted on to understand what you're going through. A few minutes with family can relax you and recenter you.

13. Eat some veggies  

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We get it, fresh food is expensive, and you'd rather have a pizza over vegetables, but it is so important to eat healthily. By feeding yourself good food, you power your body and mind.

When you stop feeding yourself good food and turn to grilled cheese and pasta, you begin to lack the nutrients in your diet to keep you healthy and your immune system strong. Eating good and fresh foods like veggies keep you healthy, strong, and focused—the perfect combination to ace your exams. 

14. Pet a pupper 

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Animals are a gift to the world. I solemnly stand by this statement because animals always make you feel better. There is a reason why support animals are so important and so valuable. Sitting with an animal and petting them is such a relaxing activity, and releases the endorphins that make us calm and happy.

Not only will petting a dog bring joy to that animal and bring some cuteness into your life, but it will make you happier and more relaxed with just a little bit of love!

15. Make something 

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Creativity is one of life's relaxants. Moms everywhere are out there doing wine and paint nights, and there's a reason why. Taking a few hours to get your creative juices flowing can both relax you and make your brain active.

Whether your method is a Bob Ross paint night, writing a poem, making up a dance with your best friends, or jamming on your guitar, creativity can be found anywhere. Getting up on your feet, down into a groove, or getting your brain pumping will destress you and give you that much-needed break.

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As we feel ourselves burning out, it's important to stay on top of things. Take care of your body and mind. Remember to take breaks, sleep, and eat good food. Self-care is as easy as a ten-minute fun activity and is worth so much more. Break out the face masks, pick up a book, or call your mom. Trust me, it'll change your world.