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Midterms always sneak up on me before arriving with a bang. Exams, essays, projects… And with Reading Break now behind us, there’s nothing to break up the next month and a half of online school. Not to mention February blues, COVID-19 fatigue and general ennui. All in all, it’s safe to say that self-care is more important now than ever. 

First things first: have you eaten a proper meal recently? Have you had some water? Have you slept more than five hours? Have you left the house yet today? Have you showered? If the answer to any of these questions is no, that gives you a good starting point. 

Basic wellbeing behind us, let’s dive into some ideas for self-care to practice during midterms.

Have a spa night.

I’m not sure why, but something about doing a face and hair mask and slathering lotion all over myself makes me feel like I’m about to get my shit together.

Do some yoga.

Yoga is a great way to regain some of the flexibility that sitting at a desk all day has stolen from us. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is a great resource to get started, or check out our article, “The Perfect Yoga Video for Any Time of Day.” At the very least, though, stretch out your shoulders and neck. Back problems are the worst.

Go for a walk/run.

Going out in the dead of winter isn’t always pleasant, but bundling up and going for a quick jaunt around the block will help clear your head.

Watch a calming movie or TV show.

Escapism is so important, especially right now (as long as it isn’t taken to the extreme). Take the night off and watch a Studio Ghibli movie or an episode of Parks and Recreation now that they’ve added the show to Netflix.

Do something creative.

Copy a drawing from Pinterest. Dig out that adult colouring book that you keep forgetting about. Write a shitty little poem. Pick up an instrument. Whatever floats your boat. Having a low-stress creative project is a good way to give your brain a break, especially if your degree is intensely academic.

Cook yourself something nice.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been subsisting almost exclusively on KD and toaster oven veggie chicken nuggets. Take an hour or two to make a balanced meal. Cooking is a nice way to focus on something external, and you get to eat something at the end of it. 

Tidy up your space.

I’d pair this with one of the other suggestions, like number four, to make it more fun, especially if you don’t like cleaning. You’d be surprised at the difference it makes to your mood.

Read for pleasure.

What’s that? Seriously, I do a lot of readings for both of my majors (English and Writing), so picking up a book isn’t always what I want or need. Reminding yourself of the joys of reading for fun, though, might help you enjoy the mandatory readings you have to do for class more. Wuthering Heights, I’m looking at you.

I hope that one of these suggestions sparks your interest! School can be all-consuming, but it’s important to take care of yourself. Happy midterms!

Eli Mushumanski is a queer Writing and English Honour undergrad in their fourth year at the University of Victoria. They specialize in fiction and poetry. Their work has been published by The Albatross, The Warren, and Flare: The Flagler Review, and they are a fiction editor at UVic's literary journal, This Side of West. When not caught up by schoolwork or reading, Eli plays Stardew Valley and chats with their mom on the phone.