5 Ways to Relax During the Fall Semester

As midterm season rolls around the corner, we all find ourselves scrounging for a bit of “me” time. No matter how busy your schedule is, it’s important to set aside even just fifteen minutes to do something that makes you happy. Even though we strive for success, it’s vital to give yourself a mental break; otherwise, you’ll burn out. So, in case you’re looking for something to do during one of these little sessions, here are some things that I like to do to wind down after a long day of classes.

  1. 1. Face masks

    Putting on a face mask is like buying a one way ticket to the hydration station. Honestly, I’m guilty of buying most of my face masks because of their cute packaging (I know—don’t judge a book by its cover, but how can I resist those cow splotches?). This leaves me with an endless supply of them in my bathroom drawer, constantly tempting me to put one on for a guaranteed fifteen minutes of utter relaxation. Plus, who doesn’t love the dewy glow you get right after you take one off?

  2. 2. Read a book

    We’re probably all tired of reading textbook after textbook for our classes, so I know that reading for fun might not sound the most appealing, but trust me, it is. Books are like taking a vacation without having to book an Airbnb and a flight—instead, you can travel all over the world from the comfort of your bed. Even though the days of binging book after book until 2 am are now gone (oh, how I miss that middle school free time), I still make sure to set aside time every night before I go to bed, to at least read a chapter or two of whatever book I’m currently reading. If you’re looking for some recommendations, one of my all-time favorites is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, but be prepared to have your heart wrenched out of your chest. If you want something a little more light-hearted, I just started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell—I love it so much already, and I’m only about 50 pages in.

  3. 3. Cook

    Even though Florida is notorious for not getting the memo about seasons, nothing hits the spot quite like a warm bowl of soup when the weather drops by 0.01 degrees. A few months ago I learned how to make gnocchi soup (dare I say, even better than what Olive Garden can whip up), and I know I’ve made my family sick of it with how much I’ve made it since then. It’s a super simple recipe that I've made some alterations to, since I love extra seasoning and wanted to make it vegetarian-friendly for my sister—but if you’re feeling the urge to make it too, here’s the recipe that I used as a foundation!

  4. 4. Treat yourself to coffee or tea

    Even while autumn begins to roll in at full strength—anything below 70 degrees is honestly too cold for my tastes—I still can’t resist iced coffee. Logically, I know it makes sense to drink hot coffee to help me warm up, but it just doesn’t hit the spot like a java chip frappuccino from Starbucks does. So whether you’re on team hot or cold coffee, remember to treat yourself to something nice like a hot chocolate. Or, if you’re hardcore and snort at the sight of sugar, go pick up an intense cup of black cold brew. As for all my pumpkin spice lovers out there, this is your time to thrive—get your fill before they store away all the PSL for another calendar year.

  5. 5. Listen to music

    I think we can all agree that one of the easiest ways to relax after a long day is by turning on one of our favorite, intricately curated Spotify playlists. Music speaks to us on a level that even we don’t understand; it makes us feel things that we can’t put into words. Sometimes it feels good to just cry to a deep thrum after you spent the day selling your soul to the study abyss. Initially, I made a cute fall playlist on Spotify to share here, but then I realized I had made my account in middle school, and decided to spare you all the second-hand embarrassment of my account username. So, instead, I’ll give you a couple of recommendations to add to your own autumn playlists!

    If you’re looking for something mellow that shakes you down to your core, try listening to Glass Animal’s album, ZABA. Whenever I’m driving home at night, I love to put "Cocoa Hooves" on repeat with the windows down (even though Carlton, my car, falls apart whenever I touch any of his buttons). It’s like I can feel the stress melting away from my body along with the smooth beat and crisp air on my face. If you want something more upbeat, try "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, because who doesn’t love a good classic—especially if you have it on loop on the actual 21st night of September. It’s a great song to jam to in the kitchen as you work on making that gnocchi soup. Trust me, I’ve burned myself with the pot quite a bit while dancing around with my ladle. 

    Lastly, just for how iconic it is, toss in "Sweater Weather" by The Neighborhood. I know, it's basic, but there’s a reason why it's always trending again on Twitter—you can’t help but love it.

Take note that being successful doesn’t equate working yourself into the ground. In order to reach your full potential, you need to take care of yourself both physically and mentally—otherwise, you’ll start resenting what you do and you'll run out of steam. If it even takes writing those fifteen minutes into your planner or setting a reminder, make sure you do it! In the end, loving and appreciating yourself and all of your accomplishments is vital to growing as a person, so don’t fail to give yourself the attention you need. You always remember to water your plants, so do the same for yourself!

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