Spring? Is that you? I think it might be!
The weather the last couple of days has been absolutely incredible here in Ottawa. On Sunday it was over 20 degrees (celsius) and the sun was shining all day. A lot of people are actually rocking sunburns around campus right now because they didn’t think they needed sunscreen in April haha. A grave error to make; Canadian weather can never be predicated!
At 9:30 this morning I wrote my history final which unfortunately for me was only my second out of six exams I have this semester. Lots of my friends at other schools (and even some here) are already done and home but I’m not even half-way yet! In light of that, I figured I’d give myself a break and write a little post about how I’ve been staying sane and joyful even with the stress of exams looming over me in case you’re still with me in the struggle (or if you’re in high school and haven’t started exams!)
One of my goals for this year was to choose to be joyful in every situation. However as we all know, stress can be overwhelming and quickly consuming, making it really difficult to stay positive. This exam season, I’ve been making sure to prioritize my mental health and find ways not to let stress swallow me up. They are simple tips but sometimes a reminder is all we need to encourage us to do the little things in life!
Go for a walk – This is my number one way to destress or take a break. Being outside in the fresh air, especially with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, is the best way to clear your head and come back refreshed and ready to work. It’s active so it gets you up and away from your desk and it always reminds me how lucky I am to live in this beautiful world. Walking along the canal in the sunshine makes me feel joyful without even trying. Although, yesterday I may or may not have gotten lost and taken 2 and a half hours to find my way home…yes, my life is a gong show. But hey, it was an adventure at least!
Dance/sing/listen to music – Pretty much everyone can agree that listening to music can affect our moods. Whether that you need to be energized or calmed, picking good music is key to any study session. Even if you’re someone who can’t focus with music playing, I would still recommended throwing on some upbeat tunes when you take a break. The other day I had a mini dance party in my room to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, all by myself. Did I look ridiculous? Most definitely. Did it make me laugh? Yep. Just letting loose and doing something silly like dancing and singing to a pop song makes me feel more relaxed and able to go back and conquer that next chapter of economics or whatever I’m working on.
Change up the study space – For me, I’ve learned that studying in my room is a no-go. I will, invariably, fall asleep and take an accidental nap. Therefore, finding different places to study on (and off) campus has been really important for me this year. Try switching it up and finding somewhere new to work. This week I’ve been sitting outside with my books a lot but I also like the common room in my res, the library, other buildings on campus, coffee shops and even the laundry room (it’s quiet and no one cares if you study out loud). Having a study space where I feel productive empowers me to deal with stress.
Take care of yourself- eat and sleep. This is pretty self explanatory and gets drilled into our heads by every study tip source EVER. Eat well and please, please, please sleep the night before your exam. You will feel overwhelmed and stressed if you’re trying to study or write a test on 3 hours of sleep. Not to mention, choosing to be joyful is really hard when you don’t even have enough energy to get through the day.
Have confidence – Self-confidence? Sure. But even more than having confidence in myself, I find it essential to have confidence in God and His plans. Confidence that no matter how these exams go, there is a plan for my life and that my worth is not wrapped up in my grades or my accomplishments. With that in mind, I can have a settled assurance that everything will be okay and this freedom allows me to be unrestrained by stress. It enables me to put my full effort into everything I do, secure in the knowledge that my best is good enough. When my confidence is anchored in God, it can’t be shaken by something as simple as words on a page. The best part: when you’re confident, you’re more productive because you know that you are capable of producing the results you want. Let’s be real, if you put the time into studying, you will do fine; the more confident you are, the better you’ll be able to perform under the pressure of exams. Believing that God’s got your back is the best way to make full use of your talents and abilities.
Let it goooooo. -The most stress is that which we put on ourselves. A healthy amount of pressure is fine and can even be helpful; I know I work best when the pressure it on. There comes a point however where it stops being healthy and we start beating ourselves up. You can do your best and nothing more; be kind to yourself. Prepare for your exams, go in and write them and then let it go. Rehashing things in your head after the fact doesn’t help anything so try to just live in the moment and be glad that they are over. You did it!
Whether you’re one exam in or have just one exam left, I believe that you can survive the end of the semester. School is not the end of the world, nor is the stress worth it. So stay joyful and do the best that you can; it’s all anyone can ask!
Good luck, and remember…summer is coming! I can feel it in the air 🙂
-Until next time, Sam