Preventative Self Care: How to Stay Sane Throughout the Semester

With midterms approaching, get ready to be bombarded with some crazy and impractical self-care tips like “have a spa weekend” or “take a trip to the beach.” While these may be outlandish and unreasonable, there are some things you can do to support your mental health as you head into midterms season. 


Remember that self-care isn’t just something you should be doing while you’re stressing the day before your exam—there’s lots of small things that act as mental health protective factors. These factors can increase your resiliency when faced with stressful situations, and they can help you kick your midterms’ butts! 


Here are my favourite preventative self-care tips:

  1. 1. Get rid of the clutter

    This may be your bedroom, your desk, or your cubicle in Rutherford, but try to keep the clutter to a minimum. The less things that are around, the less that can distract you.

  2. 2. Unplug from social media

    Or, at least limit the time you spend scrolling. iPhones have a nifty feature where you can set time limits for certain apps or categories of apps, and it’s definitely helped me to cut back on my screen time. The Flora app also grows trees when you stay off your phone, so you can end up with a cute little garden after a few days.

  3. 3. Keep your home clean

    Someone once told me that your environment is a reflection of the inside of your head, and I haven’t heard anything more true! Cleaning my room helps me clear my head and feel more in control of my environment. Your place doesn’t need to look like Marie Kondo’s, but at least wash a few things from the mountain of dishes that’s been accumulating or put away the laundry that is piling up on your desk chair!

  4. 4. Drink more water (and less coffee)

    Like most uni students, I treat coffee like its own food group. It may be a necessity in the morning, but let’s be honest: cup #2 kept you awake, but cup #4 is now just making you an anxious mess. When in doubt – drink water. If you have trouble remembering, grab a water bottle with times labelled on it, so you know how much you have to drink by a certain time. Try carrying your water bottle around in your hand (instead of at the bottom of your backpack), because looking at it acts as a reminder.

  5. 6. Know when your midterms are

    Keeping track of deadlines is so important! I’ve had an embarrassing number of nights where I stay up late to finish (and start) and assignment due the next morning, just because I forgot when it was due. Avoid repeating my mistakes by keeping track of all your important deadlines—use a calendar and remember to check it regularly!

  6. 7. Use a planner or calendar

    I don’t think I could live without my google calendar! It’s colour-coded and stuffed to the max and keeps me on top of all my commitments. Find a system that works for you, ideally something that will remind you about that coffee date or appointment you planned a month ago!! 

  7. 8. Make a to-do list, and then choose the 3 most important things on it

    Write down everything you want to do in a day and pick the most important three to do. If you get more done—congrats, you’re ahead of the game! If you fall a bit short: that’s okay, try breaking down your tasks into smaller sections for tomorrow.

  8. 9. Get enough sleep

    My friends know that I am the WORST at getting enough sleep when I’m stressed, but it is so, so important! Your body needs rest, your brain needs a break, and sleep helps all the information you studied during the day sink into your brain!! (There’s lots of research that shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation).

  9. 10. Be intentional about your self care

    I’ve been told to think about self-care by asking myself: “What can I do right now that will make me feel better tomorrow?” It might not be something you love doing (ahem cleaning), but if it’ll make you feel calmer tomorrow to see that the pile of dishes has been washed, do it! Your future self will thank you.