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‘Tis the season: Dealing with the stress of impending exams

November 19, 2019 — 

We hope you had a restful break week. You should know it’s normal that as you return to your studies, you may find it hard to focus or get back into a routine. You may also be experiencing anxiety or stress about school or other things in your life. Getting through a stressful time is all about balance.

Edgar French, UM’s Spiritual Care coordinator says, “Students can become so absorbed with their academic demands that they sacrifice or ignore the habits and practices that instill a sense of hope, meaning and joy in their lives. These are not add-ons but essential aspects to living a whole and balanced life.  Carving out time in our day to recharge our selves, be it exercise, contemplative practices, talking with a trusted friend, can provide the added motivation and energy to get back to the books and get the more out of your study.” Edgar can be found at 102C UMSU University Centre.

If you are having trouble managing any of your worries or concerns, please know that you’re not alone, and the University has many resources to support your success. We’ve put together a few ideas for handling stress.


Simple tips for handling stress

It’s normal to feel stressed as exams are approaching, and there are many things you can do to help manage these feelings. Here are some ways you can try to combat stress yourself:

  • When and if possible, seek out support within your own personal network – share your concerns with your family or friends;
  • If you’re feeling stressed, consider answering honestly the next time someone you trust asks how you’re doing – this can lead to support and help you feel better;
  • It is important to keep doing the basics as exams approach – continue to try to eat and sleep well and try to remain physically active;
  • Shift your priorities temporarily: plan to be busier with your academics and set boundaries in your life to allow you more time to study – this may mean that you cannot do certain things, but it’s just for a short time – but do stay in touch with your friends to some extent because that will help you with stress;
  • It’s never too late to enhance how you are approaching your studies – take a look at the Academic Learning Centre for suggestions on how to improve your studying, paper writing, exam taking and more.

If you find that you are still struggling after trying these techniques, you may want to seek out some of the options at UM’s Student Counselling Centre.


Attend an event

Pause for Paws – St. John’s Ambulance therapy dogs are available for cuddles, specifically to help students beat the stress of school. Dec. 2, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., UMGSA Lounge, 217 UMSU University Centre; Dec. 3, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Elizabeth Dafoe Library Atrium; Dec. 4, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Joe Doupe Concourse, Bannatyne campus.

Migizii Agamik Study Night – This partnership between Indigenous Student Centre, Libraries and the Academic Learning Centre will provide everything from writing assistance and study tips, to free food and popcorn, to stress relief tips. Dec. 3 from 5-9 p.m.

Take a Break at Student Life – Drop in anytime Dec. 2-6 from 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to take your mind off things. They’ll have a craft station, handouts, and info about other resources available on campus. Student Life can be found at 225 UMSU University Centre.

 11 Ways to Prepare for Final Exams in 11 Days: Study Smarter, Not HarderIf you’re struggling with your classes, maybe a visit to the Academic Learning Centre can help. This particular workshop will help you be a more efficient studier. This workshop will be Nov. 29 from 2:30-3:30 p.m., if that timing doesn’t work, they have many others to choose from.

Healthy U drop-in hours – Until Dec. 6, go chat with a Healthy U peer educator. They’re students like you who are certified student health educators. They’re passionate and knowledgeable about relevant health topics, including stress management and mental health, and are available to answer questions, provide information, and connect you to important resources. Find their hours on their Facebook page. 471 UMSU University Centre.

Community Meditation – At Bannatyne campus, take part in this group for guided meditation and mindfulness. Wednesdays, 12:15-12:45 p.m., 385 Neil John Maclean Library. 

Student Counselling Centre WorkshopsAvailable virtually every day, workshops are a great way to get counselling help for a variety of difficulties. Often there is more than one workshop option available on a given day and no pre-registration is required. Just drop by the SCC to join in. Consider Mid-day Mindfulness, Learning to Cope (with stress), Capacity Building, Stress Management, and many more.  Just check the schedule, and show up at 474 UMSU University Centre.


Help on the go

There are lots of apps that can help you with stress:


This is no doubt a challenging time in your life, but you can do it! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, in whatever way you need. Britt Harvey, UM’s Health and Wellness Educator sends this reminder: “At times of elevated stress and busyness, self-care and rest tend to be the first things we get rid of. In fact – during times of elevated stress is when we should be taking care of ourselves and resting more! Take a few minutes to connect with a friend, or take a short walk, or a meditation break. These seemingly small moments of self-care can make a huge difference.”

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