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Whether you’re right in the thick of exam season or trying to meet those last due dates, the stress is building as the term winds down. At times like these, especially as the weather gets colder, I’m craving comfort foods, warm sweaters, and a crackling fire to huddle beside. Instead, I’m usually at a library 10 hours a day. Here are 4 easy ways you can alleviate stress and bring some coziness to your exam season:

Prepare Comfort Food in Bulk

When there’s barely any time to study, grocery shopping and cooking everyday goes completely out the window. But spending an hour or two making food for the entire week will take less time in the long run than going out to eat or getting take out. Aside from time, you’ll also be saving money and eating healthier by making your own food. Comfort foods like mac and cheese or lasagna are easy to make in one pan or pot and can be eaten throughout the week. You can even make a big batch of chili or stew and freeze it for the weeks to come. Breakfasts can be meal prepped as well. One of my favourite comfort food breakfasts I can (sort of) prepare ahead of time is pancakes! Store pancake batter in an empty ketchup bottle and then all you’ll have to do is heat up a pan and you can have pancakes for days!

It doesn’t sound like much, but being able to grab my meals from the fridge every day saves me a lot of time. I don’t have to spend time deciding where and what I’ll eat or interrupt my studying to go out and get the food. Being prepared with my meals also motivates me to be productive in my studying.

Find your Ideal Study Space

Let’s face it, a library with no windows and that funny exam-time smell is not the most cozy environment. On the other hand, studying in bed with hot chocolate and 3 blankets doesn’t lead to much work getting done before you eventually doze off. Try studying at different spots on campus. My favourite study spot during the winter is a building on campus that most students don’t go to where they put up Christmas trees and lights in December. For me, it’s perfectly cozy but far enough from my room that I can focus on studying. If your campus is usually busy and quiet study spots are hard to come by, try studying earlier in the morning or exploring parts of campus you haven’t been to before. Cafes are another comfy place to study if you can handle the noise level. And if you prefer studying from home, change things up by using lamps instead of your regular light, decorating, and lighting a candle to create a cozy atmosphere.

The Perfect Playlist

Have a little fun and make a special playlist for exams! While research has shown that studying in silence is better than with music, studies have found that studying with music was better than studying with background noises such as talking or traffic. However, the question of whether music affects studying is still under debate and there are some situations where music actually seems helpful. Personally, I find that I get distracted easily without something playing in the background and, when I really need motivation, energetic pop music at double speed really helps speed through my cramming. I’ve also found that for some subjects like math, I can easily listen to a Broadway soundtrack and still focus on my work but when writing an essay, I prefer music without lyrics or with lyrics in a language I don’t understand. Sometimes I’ve even used music to trick myself into studying something I’ve been dreading. I’ll start out by listening to music I really like to distract me from what I’m studying but soon I’ll be so engrossed in the subject and will have turned off the music without even realizing.

Find a Hobby to Unwind

Study burnout is real and it’s important to take care of yourself during a stressful exam season. But just one episode to relax before bed can easily turn into you and an empty bag of chips binge watching at 3 am. Instead, find a hobby or two you can do to relax during exam season that won’t distract you too much when you need to sleep or study. For example, activities like knitting and exercise help reduce stress and will help you feel more productive and motivated! The key to balancing studying and relaxing during exam season is to make sure that your study schedule is organized and you won’t have to worry about cramming last minute. Make sure you build in this unwinding time to your schedule. You can even take advantage of this time to make some DIY decorations for your room!

I hope these tips will make this stressful time a little cozier. Good luck with exams!

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