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NOW READING Need a Break? Try These 5 Korean-Inspired Self-Care Tips For Exam (& Holiday) Stress
December 12, 2018

Need a Break? Try These 5 Korean-Inspired Self-Care Tips For Exam (& Holiday) Stress

With the holidays come a lot of other things: final exams, end-of-year work deadlines, financial pressures. It’s no wonder the holidays are considered one of the most stressful times of the year. So that’s when it’s most important to be sure to take care of yourself. Here, five quick and easy self-care tips so you can take a break from finals, work, to-do lists … everything on your plate.


It’s one of the most stressful times of the year: the holiday season. As soon as Thanksgiving kicks off, our wallets become thinner as our thighs become thicker. And if you’re a student like me, you can add a load of academic-induced exhaustion onto your plate. Thank you, final exams.


As a K-beauty fanatic, I use my skincare routine to provide comfort and structure during wintertime test-taking. However, skincare is not the only way Korean culture has taught me to cope with stress. Self-care is intimately woven into the fabric of South Korean life from the traditional diet to the country’s active lifestyle. It’s no surprise that South Korea is expected to have the largest leap in longevity by the end of the next decade.


As a seasoned college student, I’ve learned that the best way to tackle my workload is by taking care of myself first. You don’t need an exceptional amount of time to do it. I have five Korean-influenced self-care tips that save time, encourage energy, and support productivity. Let’s get started.


self-care tips


1. Embrace skip-care


As much as I love my elaborate 10-step skincare routine, I don’t have the time to do it everyday. I like to practice what I preach, so when I skip a part of my routine, I always feel a little guilty. However, my mindset changed with the ignition of the Korean feminist movement “escape the corset.” Born from gender inequality and the global #MeToo movement, South Korean women are chopping off their long locks, trashing their makeup, and streamlining their skincare routines to challenge conventional beauty standards.


“Skip-care” is a minimal, streamlined skincare approach that involves identifying the ingredients your skin needs the most. The concept was raised earlier this year on Korea’s top beauty show Get It Beauty before it earned the moniker. Essentially, you skip the unnecessary parts of your routine, or use two-in-one products to condense it. The philosophy is a dream for lazy girls, lovers of sleep, and stressed students everywhere. I happen to fit all three categories.


self-care tips
Fresh young woman applying cream on her face


Personally, I live for multitasking micellar waters like the Son & Park Beauty Water, which removes makeup, cleanses, tones, and lightly exfoliates all in one swipe. I’ll follow it with an essence like the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, lock that in with a cream like the Dr. Frog Water-FullCharge Cream, and top it off with my favorite sunscreen.


2. Trade coffee for tea


As tempting as it may be, I never drink more than one cup of coffee per day, especially during final exams. Even though caffeine itself isn’t dehydrating, it does make you frequent the bathroom, which contributes to the loss of water. Many studies prove that even mild depletion of bodily fluids can significantly impair different aspects of brain function such as mood, memory, and concentration. Moreover, dehydration can cause major headaches, which means you won’t get any studying done.


skin-loving drinks self-care tips


Instead, take a page from the traditional South Korean diet and drink tea to give you a boost. Tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee and specific health benefits that make each blend unique. Green and barley teas are rich in antioxidants that can help protect the skin from damaging environmental factors. Citron (or yuja) tea is high in vitamin C, which makes it ideal for anyone trying to fend off a cold. Omija, or five-flavor, tea may help as well, as South Koreans have historically used omija for medicinal purposes. Personally, I like to sip on black tea while I study, which can help to improve focus.


3. Spend some time outside


Yes, I completely understand that it’s chilly outside and you’d much rather be nestled under five of your favorite blankets. However, spending time outdoors has many benefits: It can improve your mood, increase your concentration, and reduce your stress. South Koreans are reaping all these benefits, as hiking and forest bathing have become a popular pastime over the past few years. Since I’m on a strict exam schedule, I spend time outdoors in small doses. I walk to classes on campus rather than ride the bus and take 15 minute outdoor strolls to decompress throughout the day.


self-care tips


4. Take a K-pop break


If you’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy, you’ve probably seen the scenes in which best friends Meredith and Cristina “dance it out” during highly stressful and emotional situations. This is a philosophy I’ve wholeheartedly embraced over my college career. When I’m at an academic standstill, I shut my books and turn up some tunes. Many studies have proven that listening to happy music can boost your mood. Nothing makes me more joyful than classic K-pop throwbacks like “Bubble Pop” by HyunA,  “Volume Up” by 4Minute, and “I Need a Girl” by Taeyang.





5. Make the gua sha your bestie


This beauty tool will always be a staple in my skincare routine for three important reasons: It relieves my headaches, eases tension along my jaw, and helps my skincare to absorb better. The latter is very important for me: Over the past three months I’ve been using my gua sha to massage squalane oil into my face. As a result,  my facial eczema has dramatically improved. I’ve invested in two of these tools: one that I keep in my apartment and another that I keep in my backpack.


Learn how to use it here, or if you have the Sulwhasoo Radiance Energy Mask, use the included jade tool for a similar massage:



How do you cope with stress during finals or deadlines? Have you ever tried any of these self-care tips? Be sure to share with a comment!



Taylor is a writer in New York City with a passion for Korean beauty and investigative journalism. She enjoys practicing her Spanish, anything matcha, and adding to her gua sha collection.



Boy, do I really need to dance it out these days! And something about K-pop's catchy tunes are perfect for some much-needed stress relief!