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By: Sohana Farhin

During midterm season, it can be difficult to juggle assignments, midterms, extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and other things life throws your way. Taking care of yourself can often fall to the bottom of the priority list. However, considering the prevalence of mental health concerns on Canadian campuses, the concept of self-care and checking in with yourself is becoming increasingly important. The Canadian Association of College and University Student Services found that 89 percent of surveyed students responded feeling overwhelmed with all the things that they had to do for school. With Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week, just behind us, here are some activities you can try to relax your mind and soul to keep your mental health in check, courtesy of the Student Health Education Center.


A study by Selhub and Logan (2012) showed that spending 20 minutes in nature can help improve your vitality. Our brain responds calmly to the sounds of the nature and outdoors. In the fall, set some time to step outside the McMaster bubble and enjoy the trails Hamilton has to offer. Listen to the drizzling of the waterfalls while enjoying a breathtaking view of the trees’ colourful palettes. McMaster has some nearby trails; specifically, the Cootes Paradise trail and the Princess Point trail that leads to Bayfront Park. If you are willing to go further, take the HSR to Albion Falls or go to Dundas, and explore the many waterfalls.


There are many mediums of reflection: prayer, journaling, lyrical writing, meditation, exercising. Pick a location in which you feel comfortable and set some time for yourself to reflect on your experiences, your goals, how you are feeling and what you have learned. Genuine and honest reflection increases your awareness of yourself and your surroundings, increases appreciation of the things you have experienced and allows you to learn from your mistakes. Take a look at Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle for a foundation upon which you can start your reflection.


Annals of Behavioural Medicine reported that adults who engaged in leisure activities were 34 percent less stressed and 18 percent happier than those who did not. Challenging yourself and trying something new is a perfect way to spend time away from stressful obligations and help clear your mind. Whether it is learning a new instrument, picking up knitting, hitting the gym, learning a new language, playing a video game or anything else you want to do, having a hobby is therapeutic for your busy lifestyle.

To reduce stress levels and increase productivity, it can be beneficial to take a breather and spend some time alone. Breaks can help you refocus, reflect and keep you healthy and motivated. This article provided a few examples of what you can do to take a break, but the choice is yours. After all, the time is yours. Spend it in the way that makes you happy and ready to take on your next challenge.


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