It’s March 22. The longer days of Spring have arrived, along with occasional (and merciful) warm, breezy days and cravings for ice-cream sundaes and long walks outdoors.
The end of term is also fast approaching, which means final projects, crits, and exams will be upon us soon as well. In fact, the first day of exams is precisely one month away. (You can view the exam schedule here.) This admission is not meant to provoke mass panic. Keep your goals in sight and your priorities in order as best as you can. Treat yourself with kindness and your timetable with discipline. And should the creep of exam stress inch its way into your psyche, as it has time and again to all of us, keep the following tips in mind:
- Start your preparations early. We’ve all done it: the cram. But we also know that there is a better way. To avoid cramming, set deadlines for yourself and plan your study time so that it feels manageable. Good preparation also reduces stress on exam day, which can contribute to better performance and clarity of mind when it matters. NEXT WEEK, join fellow students, librarians, and writing tutors at Elizabeth Dafoe Library for the Long Night Against Procrastination. Get help with your research and writing skills and get on track to complete that paper!
- Sleep! A rested mind is a smarter mind. It’s not just about feeling better, it is about performing better. Your productivity and your ability to concentrate and recall information improves with a full night’s sleep; stress, in turn, is reduced.
- Eat well and stay active. Like sleep, good food and physical activity go far in keeping your mental and physical health in check. Take time to prepare balanced meals. Not only will it make you feel better, it will also provide much needed study breaks. When you’re feeling cooped up and antsy, take a walk around the block or do a few laps at the pool or the track. Activity is energizing and you deserve it. (I also suggest supplementing your healthy meals and snacks with the odd bar of chocolate and package of sour patch kids; studying is hard and sometimes you need a little extra motivation. Just try to avoid the “I accidentally had a whole bag of chips for dinner.”)
- Reach out to friends, family, and peers. Maybe you need a study partner, maybe you need someone to give you perspective, or maybe you just need to chat on a topic that doesn’t pertain to critical theory. Whatever your needs, make sure you stay connected and reach out to others when you need to. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or in need of any additional support, the University provides support and counselling for all of our students. Student Affairs also hosts a number of workshops.
- Remind yourself why you’re here. Whether you are in first year and the exam period still feels new and overwhelming or you’re in upper years and the tedium of one more project has you worn out, it can be helpful to pull back and reflect on the big picture. Time keeps marching and before you know it, summer will be here and the stress of exam prep will be a distant memory. But you have today. And to achieve your goals, whatever they may be (or however abstract they may feel), today you have the opportunity to do your best.