Taking care: Moments of peace during finals week

I don't have to tell you that we're in the heat of finals season and you, me and everyone we know are in the trenches of anxiety, procrastination and burnout. Most of us are in need of a break. (Or, I have also been told that some people are just chill about school and don't worry about it that much. Inspiring!)

What that break looks like though is personal. In the following mini-essays, three Ubyssey writers share how they're finding joy and rest.

Discouraged by the job search? Try a bagel

The word self-care sounds expensive, especially for students like myself heading into the last semester of their degree. The first thing I do after waking up is to click on my Gmail app and refresh it a couple of times to see if there are any emails about an interview request for one out of dozens of job applications I sent. Most of the time, nothing shows up. Almost preferable is the automatic rejection letter, which brings a strange sense of relief.

It’s tough not to feel disheartened, especially when time is running out, and everyone around you seems ahead of their game. In these moments, my only anchors are the ordinary and somewhat boring things I do daily. I guess we can call it “self-care.”

So, to me, self-care means looking forward to waking up every morning just to have my signature breakfast of the week — a bagel slathered in cream cheese and topped with eggs and avocado. The dish certainly contains more dairy than I should eat, but each bite fills my palate with savouriness.

To me, self-care also means nighttime skincare. Although there are many tools on the beauty market to wash your face, I love the feeling of using my hand to apply all the essential skin care steps, enjoying their gentle smells.

Those daily rituals are my excuse to feel less guilty about taking time for myself. They remind me that after all those tears of disappointment and frustration, I still need to pick myself up and continue. Even if my heart is sinking inside, at least I’m making some effort to look presentable. We’re getting there.

— Quyen Nguyen

The centring power of music

As we wind our way through exams, life gets cyclical. Wake up, brush your teeth, take a shower, sit in a small, sweaty corner at IKB, pound away at your computer for hours, go find something to eat, go home, work some more, go to sleep. It’s hard not to feel restrained.

Something that offers me momentary relief is music. It’s my way of still controlling my environment. While I may have no choice but to write my papers, I can choose what song comes next. It’s a break from that monotonous machine — inserting color and life into the drab doldrums of cram sessions.

But, more than anything, I think music can be a connection to simpler times. When I dig up influential songs again later down the line, prior moments come rushing back, both positive and negative.

I listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and I’m back walking up University Boulevard, excited yet nervous about my first year living away from home. Listening to Bruno Mars croon about catching a grenade brings me back to my first heartbreak. Hearing the ambient sounds that start Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange takes me right back to summer campfires with my friends back home, with nothing but time in front of us, talking and laughing until the sun came back up.

Even in the depressing gray rain of a Vancouver spring, I can listen to Tyler The Creator’s Call Me If You Get Lost — hearing the opening refrain of “the sun beamin'" makes the sky just a little bit brighter. So while I could let the burdens of life get me down, I choose to let the music I hold close to my heart buoy me up — pushing me through the valleys until I can get back to the peaks, where I can find new music to make even more memories with.

Caleb Peterson

Literally Netflix and chilling with comfort shows

When the end of term to-do list is at an all time high, it’s second nature for me to tune all the stress out with my favourite shows. I first watched Friends when I was 12, and I know it’s basic to say that a show about mostly privileged white people figuring out adulthood is one of my favourites. But the thing with comfort shows is they aren't supposed to be impressive or unique. When I can no longer take the analysis of causal graphs, I get to sink into that iconic orange couch and indulge in Chandler’s witty remarks, and laugh every time even if I know the joke by heart.

Gilmore Girls takes me far away from dreary Vancouver and into the cozy Stars Hollow neighbourhood. Oh, to live in a town with an overzealous grocer and scruffy diner owner with the heart of gold.

Ultimately, I turn on my favourite shows during stressful times full of final assignments and group evaluations because they help me escape into a world where everything works out.

— Rhea Mann