For many York U students, midterm exams are approaching. Midterm tests and assignments aren’t all bad—they can provide a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the material and engage with topics you enjoy. For some, however, tests can increase your levels of stress. Stress is a fairly common part of life, but it’s important to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. As a student, you may be facing a variety of stressors, but remember that you don’t have to deal with it alone! There are many helpful resources and support services available at York U to help you manage your mental health and wellness; you can explore them all on the Mental Health and Wellness website.
I have compiled a list of some personal techniques and tips I use to help deal with stress during midterm season. Not everything on this list will help everyone, nor will these tips “cure” anxiety. It’s simply my list of well-known stress-relievers that have worked for me in the past. Hopefully you can find one or two things that work for you. It should be noted that these tips are not a substitute for medical or professional guidance; if you find that your stress is significantly affecting your life, consider exploring the resources offered by Student Counselling & Development.
Remember to Take a Breather
First and foremost, as simple as it sounds, taking some time to relax, breathe and practice mindfulness can help you manage stress. It’s scientifically proven that if you take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises when you’re agitated, your body will release tension with each breath. If you’re looking for opportunities to reduce your stress levels, you may want to consider meditation which also helps you get a good night sleep and can even improve your metabolism and immunity. York University offers Mindfulness Meditation sessions every weekday on campus. Check their schedule below to find out where their next class is being held!
Take an Exercise Break
If you are experiencing pre-exam jitters or find it difficult to give yourself a break from studying, exercising can help you release stress. Exercise releases endorphins in your body that can actually make you feel happier, and a scheduled workout time can give you a reason to take a study break! Maybe try a yoga class, go to the gym or take a walk around the block with a friend! Tait McKenzie, York’s fitness centre, offers drop-in classes every week, including spin, cardio and super circuit. All you need is a student membership which costs $15 per year. Although you might not want to spend an hour or two exercising when you could be studying, taking the time to look after yourself actually makes you more productive! By taking a much-needed study break, you can improve your focus and return to your studies refreshed.
Distractions & Relievers
Sometimes taking a little break from all the work that’s piling up is a good thing. Listen to your favorite music and dance around, play video games, watch that new episode of The Big Bang Theory, paint, play that instrument you love but never have time for, go for a coffee with your friend: just do whatever makes you happy for a short time. This small distraction can help relieve some stress, clear your mind and prepare you for the work ahead. Check out all the events happening around campus that could provide a reason for a quick break from studying this exam season.
Make Lists and Check In
To-do lists can be very helpful in stressful situations. To stay organized, simply make small lists of everything that needs to be tackled in a single day. This will help you stay on task and it will seem easier to get things done in a timely manner. If you missed our previous YU Blog post “Time Management Tips for York U Students”, give it a read for different ways you can be more productive during the school year.
Another great way to stay organized and check in with your health is to utilize the WellTrack app; York provides free subscriptions to students, staff and Faculty. This app can help track your daily mental health while also providing other wellness tools such as thought diaries, schedulers and relaxation exercises. To learn more about the WellTrack app check out the YU Blog post “Let’s Talk Day Comes to York U”.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I know from personal experience that trying to get a full eight hours of sleep a night during the school year is difficult – between homework, extracurricular activities and a social life, sleep doesn’t always seem like the highest priority. However, getting the right amount of sleep can be very helpful in terms of minimizing stress. Some health benefits of sleep are a stronger immune system, a better memory, more energy and a sharper attention span. Having trouble falling asleep? Consider ending your screen time at least thirty minutes before you plan to fall asleep, listen to music, read a book or wear an eye mask to get some extra Z’s.
Talk About It
Most importantly, talk to your friends, family or a skilled professional who can help you deal with stress in a safe and healthy way. York University provides students with many different mental health and support services that deal specifically with stress. If you missed our previous YU Blog post “A Guide to Mental Health and Wellness Resources At York U”, you might want to take a look at all the resources available that may be helpful to you to you.
You can pick and choose which tips and techniques you want to try to help release some of your stress. Personally, I find that laughing, lists and distractions work best for me but everyone is different! Hopefully these tips will help you during the school year. Remember, it’s okay to talk about the stress you may be feeling. Everyone deals with stress on a day-to-day basis and you should never feel like you’re alone. If you need someone to talk to about your stress levels, visit the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and the Student Counselling & Development (SCD) offices. Both of these services are open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9am to 4:30pm, and Tuesday 9am to 7pm. They are both located at N110 in the Bennett Centre for Student Services and can be reached by telephone at 416-736-5297.
How do you deal with stress? Tweet us and let us know @YorkUStudents and good luck on your midterms Lions!