Unconventional Stress Tips for an Unconventional Student

October 15, 2018  |   Found in Editorial

It’s that time again… midterm season. What some of us like to call the scary days, when the library becomes our home and sleep is but a distant memory. Not all of us find midterm and exam season to be one of our favorites, but it’s still something we all must go through. It’s stressful, and in our first semester it happens to come at a time when the weather outside is changing to a temperature that isn’t so friendly. It’s important that we learn how to deal with academic stress so that it doesn’t take over our lives and we can continue to keep pushing through these seasons.

The SU is doing mental health mini-sessions on how to balance academics and mental health throughout the year.

Academic stress is one of the most monstrous types of stress that can strike upon our lives, and as a student I tend to use the more popular ways of dealing with it. The strategies I always turn to are eating healthy, setting up ambitious (but unrealistic) study schedules, and doing practice tests before hand. I also like attending the Stress Busters that the SU puts on, like the upcoming one on October 16th in Clubs Workroom 7. The SU is doing mental health mini-sessions on how to balance academics and mental health throughout the year. The upcoming session on October 16th will be a great way to hear some other perspectives on academic stress and interact with other people who are experiencing the same feelings. It’s going to be an easy way to meet a lot of friendly faces and learn together how to tackle our academic stress. But before that, I’ve found some new strategies that can help when the conventional ways just aren’t doing the trick!

Here are some unconventional tips and tricks from one unconventional student to another:

1. Massage your ears…
Why would you massage your ears? Massaging the ears is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to destress. This might seem out of the ordinary at first, but I promise it’s extraordinary and can really help. The act of a simple massage to the ears can transmit instant happy emotions by delivering doses of endorphins to the brain. Our earlobes contain one of the body’s reflex/pressure points, meaning that by massaging it can minimise feelings of tension and stress to help relax. Try it out, who cares if others are staring. You should do whatever you can to destress.

2. Pump-up songs!
Everyone has that one song, that when they hear it they immediately feel happier and more upbeat. When experiencing academic stress, it’s good to have a quick and easy fix to make you feel this way. For some, that one song is Lose Yourself by Eminem, where you can literally lose yourself and break out into an incredible rap without missing a word. For others it’s Eye of The Tiger by Survivor that makes you feel as though you are invincible and ready to take on the world. Whatever your pump-up song may be, turn that on right before a study session or midterm to get yourself pumped up and ready to go.

3. Find your thing!
When we are faced with academic stress, we tend to bottle it up and keep pushing through with long hours in the library. Instead of not dealing with stress right away, do an action or activity that you love.
For example, meditation is great for altering the brain’s neural pathways and makes it easier to recover from stress. It’s a very simple activity that only takes a couple minutes, taking you from OMG to ommm. Sometimes your activity may be playing your favorite sports, other times it’s going to The Den for Thursden with a group of friends. Just screaming or crying into a pillow for a couple minutes can also be your thing. Screaming and crying produced from stress helps the body get rid of chemicals that raise cortisol [the annoying stress hormone], automatically decreasing stress. The point is, find what makes you happy. Even if that means walking through MacHall with red puffy eyes and a few tears streaming down your face.

Lastly, there are a lot of unknown resources right here on campus that can help. Some of us may have never even thought of checking these out, but they are convenient and easily accessible ways to help with academic stress:

4. Look to your SU and university for support!
The SU has so many great opportunities to tackle your stress. The SU Wellness Centre provides training in many areas to help you maintain your mental health and help your peers destress too. The Wellness Centre also provides exam tip sheets and strategies, which I know can help boost confidence heading into midterms/exams. The Student Accessibility Services and Exam Centre are other great options where accommodations for tests can be made, for those of us who just need a little more time to get our thoughts out or a quieter space to really focus on the test in front of us. Pet Therapy is another great energy and spirit booster that anyone can go to, to spend some time with our 4-legged friends (I mean, who doesn’t want to pet some puppies).

Give these strategies a try, I know they can really help in decreasing stress. For the Stress Buster coming up, the activity is making your own bath bomb. Using that bath bomb will be an awesome source of relaxation when you are taking a study break or getting home after crushing a midterm. We hope to see you in Clubs Workroom 7 from 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. on October 16th!

Other things to look out for this term are:

  • Pet Therapy Oct. 19 and Nov. 9 @ That Empty Space @ noon
  • Nov. 23: Stress Buster “Mindfulness and Mental Health” in That Empty Space, 1 – 2 p.m.
  • Dec. 3-7: StressLess week
  • Dec. 10-20: De-Stress Kits available @ SU office

Chyna is in her fourth year of Political Science and Business, and a Research Assistant at the Student’s Union. She enjoys the curry chicken from Kobe Beef, as well as running around the Oval with the track and field team. She is used to have free time before uni, but now she is currently attempting to be a STUDENT-athlete, while also working two jobs. (Wish her luck!)