April 04, 2016

Taking care of you: essential tips for exam season

Exam season is a difficult time for many students. Health and Wellness Services shares their advice to help you prepare for this time of year.

Final exams are just around the corner, and we know it can be one of the most stressful times of the year. We've rounded up some tips to help to alleviate some of that stress and help you have a successful exam season.

Take care of your physical health = less stress + brain boost.
Getting enough sleep and giving your body the nutrients it needs will go a long way in helping your memory retain information and decrease your stress levels. Exercise will help you focus better and give you a chance to get out of that chair. Take some time to visit the Fitness Centre in the Physical Activity and Wellness Centre, or go for a walk around campus.

When you’re focused on final exams, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick. Along with washing your hands and covering your cough, getting vaccinated is a relatively easy way to lower your risk of seasonal influenza. The University Health Centre and Campus Pharmacy offer free immunizations for students on a drop-in basis; just show up with your ONEcard and Alberta Health Care card.

Find balance — take a break.
When finals are on the horizon, it’s easy to forget to do anything but study. Studying hard is great, but you need to give yourself a chance to breathe. Whether it’s going to the gym, reading a book (not a textbook!), or just relaxing with some cute animal videos, a break will help you recharge and clear the clutter in your mind.

Don’t isolate yourself — take some time to connect with your friends, family, and loved ones. They can help you feel grounded and remind you that you are supported. Having a quick laugh with someone can go a long way to improving your mood.

It’s important to be realistic with what you have to review, and remember that studying is more effective when you allow yourself breaks. Start early and create a study plan. Divide up the work evenly over time, and give yourself a break at least once every hour. The focused attention span of the average person is 40 minutes or less and you'll study better after a mental break. Find more study tips here.

Wondering what you should do on your break? Unwind Your Mind is a program that brings free snacks, fitness classes, wisdom corners and mental health stations directly to libraries across campus. It’s a great opportunity to de-stress without having to derail your study plans. For other information and ideas on what to do in a break, check out these events happening on campus.

Use extra support — we're here for you.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is recognize when you need to ask for help. We all get overwhelmed sometimes, and a little extra support can make a huge difference to your academics and mental health. There are a number of services on campus that are here to give you a hand.

You can easily access academic support on campus, even in this busy time of the year. The Student Success Centre offers workshops and individual appointments for students looking to develop their academic skills. If you have numerous papers to write, the Centre for Writers is specifically geared to support your writing endeavors.

Academics are important, but they shouldn't come before your mental health. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the stress you’re facing, get in touch with Counselling & Clinical Services or the Community Social Work Team. One of their staff can help you get your feet back on the ground. The Peer Support Centre is also a great place to talk to someone.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help immediately, call the 24-hour distress line at 780-482-HELP (4357).

For more ways to boost your mental well-being, check out Taking Care of Your Mental Health.

We wish you a successful exam season and remember — we are here for you!