The winter semester is here — many of us may be feeling the beginnings of panic close our throats, redden our cheeks, and bring a slight tear to our eyes as we worry about assignments and exams to come. But don’t panic just yet! Here are some ways to mitigate your mental health woes during the upcoming semester.

Find free time

As school ramps up, it might be difficult to justify an unproductive moment. This guilt of procrastination has only worsened at the onset of lockdown orders in Toronto: when you are constantly in your room, next to your desk where all your readings lay waiting for you, it’s easy to feel like you have to be doing work all the time. 

But this can be unhealthy — you need a break! Studies suggest a link between overworking and serious health problems like diabetes down the line. To make your downtime guilt free, try setting alarms for yourself as you work: every 30 minutes, take a five-minute break, for example. That way, if you work your TikTok breaks into your study schedule, you won’t feel like you’re wasting time. 

Make timelines

Prevent feeling overwhelmed by making schedules and timelines for your upcoming assignments. By first laying out the deadline of your project and then writing out all the tasks you need to complete and the dates those should be done by, you can create a timeline for yourself of bite-sized chunks of work. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when the deadline comes!

Call your friends!

We are living in a particularly isolating era, and with seasonal affective disorder in full swing, the onslaught of work that accompanies the start of a school semester may only worsen the period of depression.

With research pointing to the very real negative effects of loneliness on mental health, now is the time to reach for the phone, both for your health and the health of your friends. A quick phone call with a friend, your mother, or a sibling could boost your mood and help you feel a little less alone this semester.