As I sit in front of my TV watching yet another episode of Scream Queens, I wonder to myself what that nagging feeling is. I fidget around trying my best to relax after a tough week of exams and weeks of studying. I try to think of something I may have to do and have forgotten about, but nothing comes to mind. The reality is, after a long period of stress, and full schedules, I finally have free time, and I don’t know what to with it.

  1. Bake or Cook. Don’t get me wrong, baking and cooking isn’t for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me a couple of years ago. After trying out plenty of recipes, and failing at ninety percent of them, I did find a couple of things I liked to indulge in, and loved the process of making them too. A couple of weeks ago, during the winter break, my cousin and I tried out a cinnamon-bun recipe from scratch. Because of my many failures with baking in the past, I immediately doubted myself, and deemed it a failure before it even came out of the oven. Surprisingly, it not only looked like an actual cinnamon bun, but it tasted like one too. (Here’s the recipe, it’s definitely worth your time)
  2. Read. During most of the school year, I am not able to invest my time into a good book, unless of course it’s for a school assignment. This is because I lack self-control and once I open up a good book, I don’t put it down until I’m done. That results in many friends left ignored, and much of my school work done in haste. So snatch up the few quiet days you have left before you really get into second semester, and read at least one good book. The plus side with that is if you do get a book report later on in the year, you already read a book you can write it about and you’ll be ahead of the game. One of my recommendations is Room by Emma Donoghue, which was actually recommended to me by my mentor. It’s an amazing novel written in the point-of-view of a little 5 year-old boy named Jack, whose been trapped in a small room with his mother.
  3. DIY. You know all those DIY videos you watch online, but never do? Do them. Whether it be painting your nails in a unique style, customizing your clothes, or making some new room décor. You’ll get something done, and have a reminder of it. The item will also be unique to your style and different from what other people have.
  4. Socialize. Amongst your usual busy schedule, you may not be able to go out with friends as much. It’s important to take out some free time for your family and friends while you have it. Go out to a café, with some of your friends, or even just on a walk. One of my favourite places to go is near Saint Andrew station. The CN Tower is right around there, and there are so many cozy cafés to explore.

Exams are over… for now. Try to let go and relax before you have to get back into the normal school routine.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl. Photo by Serge Bertasius. Photography courtesy of