Well, examinations for most courses are just around the corner; and that means it’s time to burn the midnight oil to start catching up with the all the lectures you would have missed, thought wasn’t “important” or just told yourself that you will get to it later (which we all know you just didn’t want to go through). Well, don’t worry too much folks, it’s all part of the university experience. Definitely all of you will be stressed, especially my fellow first year who might have done their last examination quite some time ago. As an international student from Asia, I have no shame in saying I have sat through a lot of tests, examination and quizzes. Well, sometimes, the stereotypes are true. So get it from me; you will be all fine. With constant practice and revision, examinations will be a breeze for anyone. This also makes me the best person to give tips on how to destress, since I have personally used them and seem to have got by well enough.
Tip 1: Good Distractions
Well, we have all have heard distractions are bad for us as they divert our attention away; however due to recent developments in hand held electronic devices and widespread use of technology to capture our attention regularly, it gets harder and harder for young people to concentrate on a thing for a very long time (like studying). Thus taking regular intervals to ensure our brain does not switch off is a good way to make sure you are always aware of what we are studying. Some good distractions can be doing a small word puzzle, doing a small maths problem (doesn’t have to be hard, just as a change), look out the window, or just even make yourself tea. By distracting our brain once in a while, we are always keeping our brain active and engaged. This will be very useful if you are doing courses which require a lot of memorising and intense revision.
Tip 2: Cook
After a long study session, it is always better to switch off and relax by cooking. It may not be for all but cooking is definitely a fine way to unwind and even enjoy a conversation with your flatmates while you are at it. What is better than having a hot home cooked meal either before or after a study session?
Tip 3: Potluck picnics/ meals
Well, revising can be very taxing on one’s mental health. You will be much drained and just want to go out and have some fun; but you then you realise when you go out for the night your next day’s revision plans will be messed up. What to do? When you can’t go to the party, bring it you instead. By arranging potluck meals with your friends, not only are you filling in that social void, you will also be able to study as a group.
Tip 4: Exercise
As you may all know, exercise has been proved time to time as the best stress buster. By working a sweat, you get to vent any aggravation or even use it as medium to release any stress build up. I find running along the river in the afternoon, to be relaxing and so calming which really helps me de-stress. What is your favourite exercise spot?
Tip 5: Meetup with friends
This is an extension to tip 3. When cooking for a large group is not something you will like to do, well, meeting up with them is just as good! Agree to meet up in a flat, have a drink, talk about each other’s study methods and motivate each other. Spending time with your friends during such a stressful time will do so much good for you as it helps you feel less lonely and more cared for. Knowing that people are also going through the same as you, will make you feel more relaxed and even lets you know things will get better soon!
Tip 6: Watch a video
This is something I will not have to explain much. Watching you favourite show or funny videos is one of the more effective ways to destress. But be mindful, do not spend too much doing this as it can be unproductive as well.
Tip 7: Do your chores
Yes! Doing chores helps! Physical exertion is thought to be very effective is stress busting. By diverting yourself away from the books and screens, you are giving your brain a chance to cool off. And doing chores is a great way to help you cool off. Vacuuming and mopping the floor or even taking some time to watch your toilet will all be very useful. Certainly, your flatmates will be very grateful for it!
Tip 8: Take a trip back home
What better way to relax and unwind after a tough week at school than having to go back home and have your loved ones take care of you! Home cooked meals, your pets, your friends and the presence of loved ones are all very useful. It makes sure you don’t spiral out of control because of stress. Familiarity helps in keeping you clam and that will really help you get ready for another tough week back in school!
Tip 9: Put some music on, and maybe dance
Just like exercise, music is another age old proven method of stress relief that I have to mention. Music of any kind has the ability to manipulate the way you feel and help you be more productive or relax (depending in chosen playlist). And of course, when the going gets tough just relax or even, if you want, dance! Dancing is an expression of feeling for some and will really help in helping the person unwind after a day of hard work. Again, this is a subjective thing – just do what you feel is good.
Tip 10: Sleep!
Last but not the least, Sleep! The most underrated aspect of life that people often forget its importance of. For a student, 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day is critical for brain function. It might seem a lot for some of us who have done very little revision and are burning the midnight oil to cover lectures. But, it is very crucial and based on personal experiences I stand by it. Even though the effects will not be visible in the short term, irregular sleeping patterns are definitely detrimental in the long run.
Reflections of Week 8
Well, I know this is a long post but I felt it was important I had these out there. The above stated tips are things I have followed all these years and stand by each and every one of them. Some may seem to be too time consuming, especially if you have a lot of things to cover before your examination; trust me burning out before the exams isn’t ideal either. By taking the time to relax, we are making the rest of the time left more effective and efficient. And that’s a better outcome. Examinations are meant to be tough; no one is refuting that, but see it this way – each and every one of us in Dundee University have sat through so many of these exams and successfully got till this stage. Now is the time to bring it to home base, one more push and we are done for this semester. Honestly, how hard can it be?