By Sports and Lifestyle Editor Cole Schisler
As the end of semester approaches, and the specter of final exams loom over many of us, like the dreadful ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, cycles of stress and study tend take precedence over health and wellness.
In order to better understand ways to de-stress, manage my time, and study more effectively, I visited the VIU Health & Wellness centre, and collected some nuggets of wisdom from the counsellors, as well as some handy pamphlets prepared by the counselling staff.
Organize a small time investment that works for your life. Whether it be taking a walk, talking to a loved one, preparing a healthy meal, having a nice bubble bath, or going out for a night on the town, try to find something that suits your needs. Make sure to find something small and achievable to decompress from a long day of studying. Trying to do too many things to de-stress can add to your to-do list. Focus on a small, daily task that makes you feel good.
Try to avoid an excess of unhealthy behaviours like Netflix binging, spending too much time on the internet, or finding solace in substances like drugs and alcohol. While these behaviours might make you feel good in the short term, they may leave you feeling stuck, and can open the door to more stress.
It may be tempting to hunker down for a night of cramming at home, or at the library, but cramming can often lead to burning out. For every hour spent studying, take a ten-minute break for a short walk outside, get up and move around, a change of scenery can work wonders. If you are working on a project that you really don’t want to do, practice the 15-minute plan: work for 15-minutes, take a five-minute break, then come back and work for another 15 minutes until you’re finished.
Try to regulate your sleep.
For many students, and young people in general, a good nights’ sleep often falls by the wayside, not only in exam periods, but in daily life. Avoid screens and artificial light up to an hour before bedtime. If you can’t turn your mind off, write down your thoughts in a journal, or practice breathing exercises
until you become tired. Also, try reading a boring book, and
avoid spending too much time in your bed when you’re not sleeping. Train your mind to recognize your bed as being for sleep, not for hanging out in.
Put things in perspective.
The pressure to succeed is real, but take a step back and evaluate what really matters. Do you need to get an A in every class? Maybe, but probably not. Make an attainable, and realistic goal for your studies. Decide how good is good enough, and work towards that goal.
Make a study group.
The odds are pretty good that if you’re struggling to study for a particular class, your classmates are as well. Book a study room in the library, or organize a place where you can meet with friends and make the studying more manageable. Being in a group brings a fun, social aspect to studying, and can leave you feeling much happier than studying in a room all by yourself. If you don’t have anyone in mind to study with, raise the idea in class, and see if your classmates are onboard.
Manage your time effectively.
Time management will look different for everyone. Make a list of all the important tasks you have to do in a day ranging from the most important to the least important. Even if, for example, you only finish two out of six tasks, you’ve still completed the two most important things in your day. Some people like the rush of a last minute dash to get everything done, but it’s a bad habit to fall into. Do your best to find a balance for everything in your life, and don’t forget to make time for yourself.
Download helpful apps, or look up tips online.
There’s a wealth of information out there on time management, and relaxation tips for people with busy lifestyles. One of the best apps, available on both Android and iPhone is MindShift. As described on the Google Play Store, “MindShift will help you learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help you take charge of your anxiety.” There are also great websites such as: <heretohelp.bc.ca>, <mindbodygreen.com>, <yourskillfulmeans.com>, and a wealth of great videos on YouTube to help as well.
Reach out to others.
If you’re struggling and feel like you’re at the end of your rope, talk to someone. Whether it’s a close friend, a parent, an instructor, or even the staff at the Health & Wellness centre, talk to someone. Often times, the simple act of venting your problems, and talking yourself through them will help you find clarity. Don’t be afraid of burdening others with your issues, find someone who you feel comfortable with, and again, talk to someone.
Most importantly, you don’t have to wait for the holiday season to de-stress. Hopefully, these tips, and others that are available, will help you to take control of your time, and manage your stress in a healthy balance that works best for you. Stress is becoming a bigger problem in our society as we continue into the future, and learning to manage it early in life will help to set us up for success in the future.
If you have any helpful health and wellness tips, please submit them to <email@example.com>, and I wish you all the best of luck going into the end of semester. Happy holidays.
Cole is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in creative writing, minoring in political science. He has an interest in all things exciting, mundane, or otherwise. He hopes to one day become an author, actor, comedian, editor, and rapper, while moonlighting as an astronaut.