Categories: College Life

Self-Care Ideas For Midterm Season

While the academic rigor of college taxes students all semester, nothing heightens stress like midterm season. We all hear about the importance of maintaining our self-care practices during these times of stress, but it can be difficult knowing what self care even means. Sure a face mask may leave your skin feeling bright and hydrated for an hour or two, but what happens when the feelings of exam anticipation trickle back after you finished your skincare routine? 

If you’re searching for new self-care methods that may actually help fester a feeling of calmness, enjoy some of these suggestions. 

Embrace your inner chef

Now, keeping up with adequate nutrition and eating balanced meals should be a given. How else will you have the energy to tackle that mountain of flashcards? However, instead of just sticking to your classic go-to meal (no offense, grain bowls and pesto penne), try turning cooking into a form of self care. 

One of the best parts of cooking is reading through a list of recipes that you could test out. While it may be difficult to narrow down your options, choose one recipe that you have the tools and majority of ingredients to  make–if you can, pick one that you’ve never tried before. 

Use the cooking process as a vehicle for relaxation. One of the worst parts of academic stress is the endless stream of examination dread creeping into your thoughts; distract yourself by focusing on the recipe and preparing for each step. Play music as you dice onions and mince garlic, and release your creativity by plating your meal in an aesthetic way.

Light a candle and pour yourself a glass of wine–midterm season is no reason not to indulge. Invite your roommates to try and enjoy the meal you created. 

Become a puzzle connoisseur

For your next self-care practice, keep your brain sharp by trying out a puzzle or other mind game. While you may either spend hours plucking the corners from a jumble of puzzle pieces or throw the box in frustration after a few minutes, a 1,500-piece jigsaw puzzle is not the only type of game to try.

Wordle has become one of the most mainstream word games, as players compete to guess the mystery word in the fewest number of guesses. Now, variations of the The New York Times hit have emerged; try playing Quordle or Octordle for a greater challenge. The New York Times Mini crossword also offers a more reasonable mind-tester (compared to its notorious full-fledged crossword puzzle).

Write a little

No, you don’t have to be this generation’s young poet to use writing as a self-care practice. Set a timer and try journaling for twenty minutes, brushing  away any self-critiques that pop up. If you’d prefer not to write about yourself, but still need a creative outlet, you can try your hand at writing short stories or poetry. Don’t get bogged down with the imperfections, after all, this is just a way to unwind not increase your stress. 

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, The New York Times has a list of 650 Narrative and Personal Writing Prompts

Get stuff done

Having a heap of school projects and looming deadlines often leads college students to neglect other responsibilities. We’ve all experienced the dreaded trip to the laundry machine when carrying a mighty 3-week buildup of clothes. Though completing chores may not seem like the relaxing at-home spa experience you envisioned, crossing some items off of your to-do list may leave you feeling more at peace than any face mask. 

Maybe you have a pile of dishes threatening to spill past the sink. Maybe you haven’t vacuumed or dusted all semester. Whatever your neglected chore may be, play your favorite podcast or playlist and spend some time doing non-academic work. 

Forget the library and get some sunshine

Spending too much time in a library cubicle does little for your wellbeing. Set aside your books for an hour and step outside. While ideally, you would research a local hiking trail and walk across gnarled roots and dirt paths, even walking on campus can help brighten your mood. 

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If the weather is nice enough, try finding a space outside to study–anything is better than the library’s gloom and artificial lighting. 

Make use of that Hulu subscription

Self-care practices don’t all have to be the wholesome, ultra-healthy activities that this list is even guilty of touting. If you need a break from studying, just watching your favorite TV show for 30 minutes can give you the energy needed to push through your remaining lecture notes. 

Dress for success

While the classic sweatpants+sweatshirt combo is definitely an acceptable study outfit, if you enjoy picking out clothes, a mound of homework shouldn’t stop you from dressing well. Getting ready in the morning can also help you feel more productive; once you change out of your  pajamas, making the walk across campus to the library seems more reasonable. 

Find your hobby

Whether it’s a new activity or lifelong hobby, don’t stop doing what excites you when midterm season arrives. Try to designate a time every day (or at least each week) that you can dedicate to your hobby. Perhaps the approaching time devoted to painting or jogging or baking will motivate you to get through that problem set. 

Get enough sleep

Of course, the ultimate self-care idea is to get sufficient sleep each night (not just the evening before the big exam). While every college draws sleep-deniers every year (AKA the people who boast about the all-nighters they’ve spent in the library), try to ignore this misleading advice. Though college culture may say differently, getting inadequate sleep will never be worth the extra ounce of studying you squeeze in. 

While you may expect self-care ideas to center around skincare and beauty routines, there are smaller, more attainable practices you can incorporate into your midterm-season schedule. Let us know in the comments which self-care practices help you stay focus and relaxed during the semester!

Featured Image: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Madeline Murphy

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