So here we are in mid-November, still at a somewhat safe distance from final exams (they’re coming soon, though, so be prepared), but definitely in the midst of what can be a very stressful student life: academics, work schedules, the semblance of a social life and those often forgotten essentials of sleep and food. Let’s say it loud and clear: university can be challenging, because a lot is expected of us. If we don’t look around, try to gain perspective and take care of ourselves, it’s really pretty easy to fall into a hole of complete energy drain.
York has many resources to help us understand and excel at our assignments, but you, too, might eventually feel that crunch-time drain that most of us feel mid-semester or later during end-of-the-term exams. To cope with the stress you are (or will be) feeling, I’ve put together some simple (but tried and true) tips to help you recharge and hit the finish line with a roar.
1. Keep organized
The beauty of university is that professors plan out courses from start to finish ahead of time, so by September, all the due dates have already been set in the course syllabus. These dates are crucial to note down, so that you know how much time to allocate to each assignment before you have to hand it in. Whether you use an agenda or calendar, staying organized is essential in university! Remember to break your assignment down into smaller tasks ahead of time, so that you are not pulling an all-nighter. Keeping track of due dates and tasks also helps you identify where your free time is.
2. Take regular breaks
Speaking of free time: make sure to use it wisely! Studying and completing assignments will most likely take up most of your time at university, but it is also important to take a break once in a while! Whether it is watching a football game at York Stadium or playing in intramurals, down time is essential for your mental health. My colleague Megan rounded up some great things to do on campus during the Fall and some great clubs you can get involved in. Given the temperatures we’re having, maybe just stepping outside and taking a walk in the beautiful fall colours will already do the trick. Or, sure, go ahead: if it really helps you relax, go ahead and watch some Netflix. Just be honest with yourself and set a time limit.
3. Speak to a friend
Sometimes all we need is to talk. Not necessarily to find solutions to specific challenges, but just a sympathetic ear, someone who gets it, someone willing to let us vent and maybe laugh with us about our frustrations later or just makes us think of something else. Feeling connected gives us more energy and resilience, so pick up that phone or find one of your crew to sit down and have a coffee with. I swear it will make things look up. Not into sharing your sentiments with other people? That’s OK too. Grabbing a journal and just writing everything down (don’t worry about grammar or style; no one but you is reading) can also help get it out of your system, freeing your brain up to focus less on worry and more on action and positive thoughts.
4. Use university resources
In my experience, most feelings of anxiousness come from academics. Usually, I’m stressed out by assignments — either because I’m confused or stuck on one aspect of them. Your TAs have office hours for a reason! I encourage you to use them as much as you can, as they are there to help you, and usually very eager to do so. Learning Skills Services at York make for another amazing resource: they offer workshops on time management or exam prep and so much more. If you’re looking for mentoring services or peer support, you can use the Study Hub to find great study groups, tutors and other resources. If you need more general help, feel free to reach out to our free Counseling services. For even more resources, check out my colleague Sam’s recent post, or Garima’s list of apps that can make student life easier.
Do you have any stress-relieving tips of your own? Share them in the comments or tweet us at @yorkustudents!
Note: This is a revised and updated version of a blog post originally published on November 3, 2015.