Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Surving Finals...

Notice how I didn't say "thriving during finals" or "kicking finals in the butt" because let's be honest, final exam time SUCKS! I have never experienced another time when I felt so stressed and overwhelmed and in my first year of university I didn't handle it well. It is now my 3rd year of university and over the past year or so, I have realized that it is extremely important to still look after yourself during finals.

In my 1st semester of uni, when finals rolled around in December I ended up getting the flu a whopping 4 times in that month alone along with a nasty head cold all while I had 5 exams in a 5 day time frame. I felt awful, couldn't get out of bed, had no motivation to study, just wanted to sleep all day, and I felt very depressed. Now looking back I realize it is because I didn't take good enough care of myself (ie. I stopped exercising, ate poorly, too stressed, lonely, etc). My sister Ashley and her boyfriend one night brought me a "care package" that had soup, medication, c.d's, gingerale, movies, cough candies, etc in it and my sister graciously reminded me that "you need to take care of yourself, it's important". Ever since then, it has definitely stuck. Oh older sisters are so wise!

Here are some things I do to try and reduce my stress and "survive" finals in a healthy way:

1. Take a bubble bath. The warm water will help reduce your stress and help you unwind. I also like taking my study notes into the bath and hanging out in their for a few hours while I study (this is a bite tougher when you live with others). Personally, it just helps me focus.

2. Have some light, calming music on in the background.

3. Take breaks. It is impossible to focus or cram info in to your brain every second of the day. Allow yourself 15-20 minute breaks to do something you enjoy!

4. Have a cup of tea, a peice of chocolate, or a few glass of wine!

5. It always helps me to take my class notes or textbook, and then write out the information again in a less cluttered and more comprehensions matter.  It helps to write the study notes in short form and only include the main points... usually profs don't ask for every single detail.

6. Use a whiteboard or chalkboard to quiz yourself. A friend suggested this to me last semester and I believe it really helped bump my mark up in anatomy. Simply ask yourself a question and then write down everything you can reminder on the whiteboard/chalkboard, before looking back on your notes.

7. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule. In my first year of uni, I tended to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning which I wasn't used to. This really affected my body and I have now started going to bed at 10 or 11 (even before exams, it is important to have sleep in order to function properly while writing a test/exam).

8. BREATHE! It will be over before you know it. It is only a small snapshot of your life and one day you will look back and realize it really wasn't worth fretting over. It is important (atleast to me) to get good marks but definitely not worth stressing over and harming my health.

I received a postcard in the mail today from my sister who is in Europe (Switzerland right now) travelling and that is what spurred this post. She said "I know you are knee-deep in final papers, projects, and exams right now. It might now seem so fun at the moment but enjoy it, because honestly university goes by so quickly and it is really a wonderful time in your life". It was perfect timing and that is what I am going to keep telling myself until this Friday at 4:30. Thanks big sis!

Now I am off to have a cup of tea (I will save the wine for later) and to keep plugging away at studying.


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