In the midst of midterms, taking a refreshing break can often be the last thing on students’ minds. We may take procrastination breaks all the time — YouTube videos, Buzzfeed, scrolling through social media — and these are definitely valid in their own way. However, I find that more than a half hour of such activities often leaves me feeling guilty or more stressed. Instead, allotting the same amount of time for a calming, self-care activity tends to make me feel much more at ease. Here are several of my favourite ways to temporarily detach from work.
- Taking a bath. One of my favourite feelings in the world is sinking into a tub of hot water. Taking a bath is a wonderful, low-commitment de-stressor because I can bring a book along and do my readings in a more relaxed atmosphere. Usually, I like to choose a fun, enjoyable novel, and since I am an English major, this works out. Sometimes, a change of environment is all it takes to refocus. In this way, I get to relax without feeling too guilty about abandoning work.
- Getting food with a friend. Lately, I have had no money to go out, so my friend dates have included cooking pasta at home or making warm cups of tea. Other times, I have taken advantage of $5 breakfast or brunch deals, or just gotten a latte. Nice dinners can be saved up for extra special occasions, like the end of a semester. These dates, which have lasted between one to five hours, always help me to regain my sense of balance in life. I have never regretted even the longest ones. They provide a chance to catch up, reflect, laugh — and the company is so energizing.
- Scrapbooking. This one is typically more time-consuming, so I don’t often get to enjoy it. The trick is to gather all the materials together first: I keep a ready stash of blank scrapbooking pages, glue, printed photos, tickets stubs and other such mementos. Scrapbooking will entirely consume me, and I can happily devote full days to it. Even better — I get a beautiful, finished product at the end of a few hours’ work, which entirely validates the time spent.
- Movie Night. Seeing a film in theatres has never failed to lift my mood. I love the complete immersion, the chance to forget about the world. In university, I still go out to movies whenever possible (half-price Tuesdays!), but setting up a movie night at home can be just as fun and much cozier. Personally, I find that Disney movies work wonders to diffuse tension after a stressful week. Fluffy blankets, mood lighting, and good company also bump this activity up to an A+ de-stressor. Bonus: I love popcorn.
- Cooking. It takes a specific mood for this activity to work as a de-stressor for me. If I am truly too busy and stressed, the added responsibility will make things worse. However, if I have a little bit of extra time (even just a half hour), finding a new recipe and making a delicious meal can be extremely calming. It refocuses my mind to an activity beyond words. Pasta and baking are my specialities, and as with scrapbooking, I end up with a wonderful finished product to enjoy.
Self-care can take thousands of different forms. What are some calming activities that work for you?