Exam time can be stressful, and that stress looks a little different for each student. There are great resources and coping strategies to help you thrive when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Read on for ways to keep your stress in check this exam period.
Did you know your workspace can affect how you study? Research shows that clutter can be stressful and overstimulating for the brain, and can actually impact attention and focus. If you’re feeling overwhelmed while you study, take a look at your
TIP: Clear off the surface of your desk or table and only keep the items that you need to study. If you can’t completely clear it off, find three items nearby and put them where they belong.
If you want to step up your study game, ditch the coffee and fill up on H2O instead! Water is the most important liquid we can put into our bodies, and research shows that when we’re parched, it’s harder to keep attention focused. Brain
cells need water to operate, so when they don’t get enough, they don’t work efficiently.
It’s recommended that men 19+ should aim for four litres of water per day, while women 19+ should aim for 3 litres. This is just a guide, so do what feels right for your body!
TIP: Make your water more interesting by adding lemon wedges, berries, oranges, mint, or ginger.
3. Be kind to yourself
When stress takes over, it can be easy to forget how far you’ve come. Take a moment and practice self-gratitude. Think about the hard work you’ve put in over the semester, things you’ve accomplished outside of your studies, and remember
that this stress is only temporary.
Make sure to prioritize your wellness with simple things like taking a bath, or preparing healthy food to fuel your brain.
TIP: Visualization can be a powerful tool to relieve stress. Imagine yourself in a quiet, calm setting (a beach, forest, or somewhere that brings you comfort). Pay attention to the details: what do you see, what do you smell? Remember
you can always revisit this calm place in your mind when you feel overwhelmed.
4. Get active!
Building breaks into your study schedule can boost productivity and prevents burnout. A great way to spend that break is to get up and get your body moving! 30 minutes of daily physical activity can reduce stress levels, give you more energy, and
elevate your mood.
TIP: Make your activity goals realistic. If you only have 15 minutes, just go for a short walk! Focus on activities that you enjoy, and prioritize making time for them.
It’s easy to lose track of time when you study, but don’t let it impact your sleep! Sleep is very important for memory formation, which means you need rest for all that studying to stick. Establish a sleep schedule that works for you,
and keep it consistent during the exam period.
TIP: Unplug an hour before bed and start to wind down. Instead of studying or using bright screens, take this time to have a hot bath, read a book, or practice relaxation exercises.
Bonus: Reach out for help
Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re never alone. CNC offers many resources for students including wellness coaching, counseling, and academic advising through Student Services.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, confused, suicidal, or just need someone to listen, these free external resources are available 24/7.
- Choi, K. W., Aheutlin, A. B., Karlson, R.A., Wang, M.J., Dunn, E.C., Stein, M.B., Karlson, E.W. & Smoller, J. W. (2019). Physical activity offsets genetic risk for incident depression assessed via electronic health records in a biobank cohort
study. Depression & Anxiety, 37(2), 106-114. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22967
- Dietitians of Canada, Guidelines for Drinking Fluids to Stay Hydrated, 2014.
- Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep, 2007.
- McMains, S. & Kastner, S. (2011). Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(2), 587-597.
- Mead, M.N. (2008). Benefits of sunlight: A bright spot for human health. Environmental Health Perspectives,116(4),160-167.
- Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan, C.A., Charney, D. & Southwick, S. (2007). Social support and resilience to stress. Psychiatry, 4(5), 35-40.
- Wittbrodt, M. T. & Stafford, M. (2018). Dehydration impairs cognitive performance: A meta-analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 50(11), 2360-2368.
- Wong, J.L., Owen, J.O., Gabana, N.T., Brown, J.W., McInnis, S., Toth, P. & Gilman, L. (2016). Does gratitude in writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy Research,