Self-care during finals season

This list includes some of the self-care activities that have worked for me during finals, and some of my personal favourites. It includes a little bit of everything and I hope you will find something you enjoy that works for you, too!

Here is how I take care of my mind:


It can be helpful to reduce stress and help you relax. I find it useful to meditate between study breaks; it helps me concentrate better and focus on the present. I usually play some “guided meditation” videos to help me focus my attention, and other times only playing relaxing music works for me. 

Practice journalling and gratitude 

It helps to get a nice notebook and decorate it so you can personalize your space to write down everything you need. Journalling is helpful to capture your goals, values, worries, dreams, or anything that helps you connect with yourself. I find that making it a habit to write down something I am grateful for each day allows me to get to know myself better and helps me appreciate the small details in life. 

Reward yourself 

After you complete or make some progress on a certain task, acknowledge your accomplishments. One of the ways that I reward myself is by taking a nap, getting some candy, or doing a quick “dance by myself” session. To keep motivated with studying, it is important to take some time to unwind and relax after a stressful submission, exam, or a long study session. Do not just keep going non-stop after each task; take a moment to recharge your energy and possibly your stomach too!

Here are my top tips for looking after your body:

Do some physical activity 

Getting some exercise is useful to relax and feel energetic during the day. I often struggle to make time in my schedule to get some movement, but the daily physical activity does not have to mean three hours in the gym. I find fifteen-minute exercise breaks quite helpful. For example, physical activity can take the form of going on a short walk as a study break; walking indoors during the winter still counts! For me, a fun way to exercise is to play my favourite salsa songs and dance (while I sing to the top of my lungs). 

Nourish your body

Getting enough energy is essential for focus while studying. This includes eating nutritious foods, and enough fruits and vegetables. For me, I need to eat multiple times throughout the day and I can never go without eating breakfast. I make sure that I always pack enough snacks for the day. I like to carry something sweet, but I also force myself to make something with nutritional value. It is also important to stay hydrated –drinking enough water is crucial! I always carry my water bottle everywhere I go, and when I am studying on campus, the water fountains are always helpful. 

Get enough rest

Sometimes I feel guilty for taking a moment to rest, or I think that I can cut an hour of sleep. But it is important to remember that rest is always productive. Getting enough sleep is important to focus while studying. I always try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. It might sometimes be a temptation to reduce the hours of sleep during finals, or to pull an all-nighter several times during the week, but sleep is essential to be healthy and have good memory during exams. Often when I do not sleep well, I cannot concentrate on my assignments, and I take longer to finish my task. I consider getting enough sleep as an investment for being more productive. Taking a nap is one of my favourite afternoon activities. It helps me recharge my energy after a busy day in school, and helps me rest before I continue to study for the second part of the day. 

Take a hot bath, (or cold for the brave)

This is one of my favourite self-care activities. A hot bath relaxes both my mind and body, and helps me go to sleep feeling relaxed. I am also a huge fan of cold showers, especially when I need to be wide awake to continue studying. I feel that I can think faster and get brighter ideas every time I take a cold shower. 

Here are my favourite ways to decompress: 

Go grocery shopping

It works as a break from studying and helps me get out of the routine. I always enjoy restocking my food supplies and getting some extra snacks for study motivation. I always tell myself that if I have completed certain tasks on my “to-do list” before I go grocery shopping, I will get chocolate ice cream and chips. With this strategy, I always finish my assignments on time. 

Do laundry

It is one of my favourite ways to relax while feeling productive at the same time. Folding my laundry gives me so much inner peace, it gives me the opportunity to not think about anything, just enjoy the moment and ignore my worries for a while. 

Have a chat/ coffee with friends

I also sometimes struggle to make time in my calendar to spend quality time with friends. I feel so busy during finals season that I think I do not have time for anything but studying. But even booking 30 minutes from your calendar can be enough to connect with others. I feel it is important to nourish the connections with those we care about, check in with friends, and support each other, especially during the stressful time of finals. 

Be charitable to yourself

Remember: you do not have to be perfect all the time. Even when things do not go as planned, trust yourself in the process. I sometimes think I have the obligation to be productive all the time, and I often feel guilty when I take the time to “do nothing.” Something I often struggle with is neglecting my well-being, and thinking that “powering through” and having extra time to do my obligations is better than “losing time” resting. I have observed that I have better performance when I am well-rested and take breaks to do things that I enjoy.  It is important to remember that it is totally allowed (and even required) to take breaks and to have some time to rest.  Even when no one around you seems to be taking time to rest, you should not feel bad about taking the time to care for yourself. We all function at different rhythms; some might need longer breaks, and others might need shorter but more recurrent breaks.

Plan ahead

There is nothing like being organized and staying on top of deadlines to help reduce stress. 

Writing down a “to-do list” and checking things off as you complete them can create a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. You can even write down your self-care activities in your “to-do list,” and hold yourself accountable knowing that you are not only completing all your duties, but you are also taking care of yourself. 

Self-care means taking care of your mind, body, and your whole self altogether.

/University of Alberta Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.