Monday, October 10, 2011

How to Beat the Exam Season Blues!

Congratulations, you’ve all made it through the first month of school! 

But if you’re like me, you’re far from celebrating! Every October, I drown in my pile of assignments and readings and try to get my hands on a Time-Turner! …I also do my annual Fall read-through of the Harry Potter series, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Why, I ask you, WHYYY!?
Right after Turkey Day, things tend to take a turn for the stressful – am I right? Midterms are approaching, assignments deadlines sneak up on you and you’re just left gasping for air. You might even want to cry, hide or lose your mind. 

So as the leaves turn, so do the pages in my textbook. But all I’ve really absorbed is the fact that I am not alone in this. I can guarantee everyone feels the squeeze this time of year. It got me thinking: however did I do this for four semesters now!? So I decided to write into the blank page of my exam prep notebook some reflections on how to survive this semester:

Embrace the spirit and be thankful:

Thanksgiving, regardless of whether you celebrate it or not, is a great excuse to take a minute and be grateful. There are harder things than being knee-deep in the land of academia. I always try to look to the positive side of things, so here are just a few things you can be thankful for this time of year:
  • Cheer up, you can now have that’s study date with that cute guy/girl you’ve been eyeing in class all semester.
  • You can snack on all the Tim Horton’s and junk food you want.
  • You have an excuse to bring out your sweats and hoodies, because there is no better comfort than sloppy dressing during exam season.
  • Every time you party, you can party hard and say: “This is the only time I get off from studying”.
Look forward to upcoming events:

Halloween (my favourite holiday of the year) is just around the corner. Think of all the fun costumes, relaxing party nights and all-you-can-drink Jello shots to be had. Also, look for events on campus! There are always interesting things happening just a few footsteps away from your study cubicle, if you only keep your eyes and ears open. I like to work on the back rewards system. There are only so many days until the holidays, until a mini-reading week, until family visits, until Halloween, etc. As the numbers get smaller and smaller as the list progresses, time seems really trivial.

Relax and get active:

I combine both those things in yoga (every Tuesday, 11am-12pm in the Teaching studio!). You can always say you don’t have enough time for the gym, but we all know that your five hours playing Super Mario Bros could have been spent sweating out your stress. And added bonus, you get to look great for the upcoming holiday season.

Indulge in study breaks:

This for me comes in the form of naps, Tuesday movies (it’s so cheap!), and catching up with friends. These are all better options than the dreaded land of procrastination. If “due tomorrow, do tomorrow” is your motto, you need to avoid this tip altogether. But for those studious students who need a break, make the best of it!

Do non-school things, in school:

Join a club or a campus group that you connect with. You’ll be in school but you’ll be having fun, and that in and of itself will improve your mood greatly! So once you’ve regained some of your chutzpah from mingling with like-minded individuals, you can get back into study mode! Also, your best weapon to beat the exam blues? A smile :) It doesn’t hurt and it makes you look waaaaay better.

We were the cool kids in high school, ahem. "Nerd Squad"
Make studying fun!

Why not colour code your notes and brighten up your study session? Why not design a rewards system for yourself as you study? One chapter equals one 5 minute conversation. Or you can get really creative, like I did, and even create your own study gear:

I might be preaching to the choir here, but the most important lesson I’ve learned from my two years at university is: it’s always better sooner rather than later – for everything. If you have a co-op job application due tomorrow, do it today. Got that essay due in a week? Start now. Time is your best friend and your enemy when you don’t have enough of it. 

But I do understand. Giving tips is easy, it’s following them (even when they’re your own) that’s hard. So all I can do is wish you good luck and remind you that somewhere over the rainbow lies your university degree. 

And even after two years, I’m still completely lost when it comes to the world of university. But hopefully some of what I have learned can help some of you as well (especially if this is your first time of the merry go-round)! 

What are some of the ways you all deal with the stresses of school? Leave a comment below and share your tips! Also, if you want to see how I deal with my stresses, follow me @rantothezebra.

In the meantime, use this old adage to your advantage: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Until next week, later days!



  1. Nice post Ranziba, loved the study breaks idea!

  2. Thanks Sanat! Just a few things to keep me sane this time of year :P


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