Survival Tips: Stress Management

Posted by Megan on October 16, 2013

Journey to the Centre of York

Hello readers! It’s that time of year again…

Sparkling text that reads 'Midterms'
Don’t worry, I know how you feel. Thankfully, after surviving 3 years of university, I’ve picked up some useful stress management tips that are useful for highschool AND university students. I’m going to share them and change your lives FOREVER (yup, I’m dreaming big).

Trust me; you don’t want to be that student, the one who crams the night before exams. It’s not going to end well, I promise. And even just one bad grade can drastically affect your GPA. Minimizing the negative effects on your GPA can take a long time, so my plan is to help you avoid any potential mishaps.

A Meme that reads 'day before midterm...checks syllabus'

Tip 1: Plan, plan, PLAN!

  •   The best way to avoid last minute exam stress and feeling stressed is to make sure you schedule in study time and schedule it in EARLY. If you know you have an exam in a few weeks, schedule in hour or two hour study chunks 2-3 times a week, possibly adding more the closer you get to your exam. I prefer to schedule electronically, my two favorite applications are Google Calendar (which I sync to my phone) and an amazing desktop widget called Scattrbrain (which works as a check list). I also use the Sticky Notes desktop widget to keep on top of my readings/homework – a different colored note for each class.

Tip 2: Take breaks, as many as you need. You WON’T retain information if your brain is overwhelmed. The way I incorporate breaks is as follows:

  1. Study for 45 minutes with NO distractions. No cell phone. No laptop (unless your notes are on it, in which case make sure you stay away from the internet – in fact, turn it off while you study)
  2. Free time for 15 minutes. Have a snack. Watch a YouTube video. Go for a quick walk. NO PEEKING AT ANY SCHOOL WORK. Don’t even THINK about schoolwork. It might be hard at first, but I promise it will be worth it.

This study tip has honestly been a life saver for me. It helps your brain focus solely on studying during the first part and then relax and recharge during the second part. Modify it if you need to. 45/15 works best for me but other students might benefit from 50/10 or even 30/30.

Tip 3: Be active!

  • Working out is one of the best ways to instantly reduce stress. That being said, traditional work outs aren’t for everyone. Some alternatives? Going for a walk/walking your family dog. Going to the mall with friends (hey, shopping can be great exercise). Yoga. WiiFit or an Xbox Kinect game (but seriously, gaming + physical activity is AMAZING and one of my favourite activities). Just do something that works for you and gets you moving.
An animated image of a man doing pushups as his kitten 'helps' by pushing down on his head repeatedly.
Hey, maybe your pet will help you out like this awesome kitten.

Tip 4: Don’t wait until the last minute to get help. You have more and more options the earlier you reach out. Some of your best options include:

  • Workshops, some relevant ones including ‘Academic Anxiety & Stress Management’ (wow, almost too good to be true), ‘Exam Prep’, ‘Reading and Note-taking’, etc.
  • Profs and TA’s. They aren’t just there to listen to during lectures. Take advantage of their office hours. Use their contact information if you need to schedule more help. They honestly don’t mind helping students out; you just have to initiate the process by reaching out to them.
  • Study programs/tutoring. Two programs I can think of off the top of my head are SOS Peer Tutoring and SOS PASS. They are more structured than just studying with friends or classmates and both services are completely free!
  • York’s CDS. If you think you would benefit from counseling to manage your stress OR you think you might be suffering from a mental health disability or learning disability, please please please visit with CDS. They have an amazing team and they can help you figure out how to manage your stress and they can even provide academic accommodations if needed. Some examples of accommodations would be extra time for assignments, being able to write your exam in a separate quiet area, having a note taker, etc.

So there you go! If you use these four tested and approved tips I can almost guarantee you success through your midterms and exams. For legal reasons yada yada yada…

Oh wait, I CAN guarantee that you will be more successful and much less stressed than if you cram the night before. Take that!

An animated cartoon clip of Super Mario Bros, Mario jumps off the platform onto the flagpole and the flagpole falls over and hits the castle at the end of the level.
Well you almost had it, but practice makes perfect, right?

Best of luck, I know you can do it!


Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan

  • Megan

    Thanks Kira! That’s a great addition that I should probably start using too 🙂

  • Kira

    These are great! One thing that I find helps me is the Self Control App…it works for Mac computers for sure and possibly PCs as well. It basically blocks websites that you find distracting for a set period of time so that way you can use the internet to be productive instead of for procrastinating.