Fear for the Future

It’s a scary feeling not knowing what you’ll be doing this time next year. Will I be working a full-time job? Will I be completing my master’s degree? Where will I be living? These are the types of questions haunting me. As of right now, I have no idea what my life will be like next year.

I am excited to move away for school, but am also scared that I might not even get into any of the programs I have applied to. If I do get in where will I live? Who will I live with? Which program will I choose? Will I even get to choose or will I only get accepted into one?

And even worse, what if I don’t get in anywhere… Will I be able to get a job in my field? What if I can’t get a job at all? How will it look to have a gap on my resume? Will I ever go back to school if I take some time off?

Waiting to hear if you got into any of the programs you’ve applied for is terrifying and stressful. So I’m trying my best not to think about it too much and I suggest the same for anyone in the same situation. Worry about it when you need to. Focus on the present, don’t stress about the future.

 

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Ways to Relax

The winter break is a perfect time for students to relax and have some “me time.” It’s nice to finally have some time off and not have a huge to-do list hovering above your shoulders. Having some down time is important as it helps to keep you from burning out. Here are some great ways to relax:

  • Read a good book
  • Catch up on some sleep
  • Have a nice warm bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Exercise
  • Do some yoga/stretch
  • Listen to soothing/relaxing music
  • Enjoy a cup of tea
  • Go for a walk
  • Take a few deep slow breaths
  • Count backwards from 10
  • Drip cold water onto your wrists
  • Write in a journal
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Laugh
  • Talk to a friend or close family member
  • Colour/draw

Please add any additional ways you like to relax in the comments below!

Reflecting on the semester

Once exams are done, we often try to forget about school at least until final grades are released. However, it can be nice to look back at all you accomplished through the previous semester. Maybe you studied more for all your exams this year than you did last term. Or perhaps you were able to get 5% higher than usual on a paper. Or maybe you were able to force yourself to get up an attend every 8 am class you had this semester. It is important to reflect on our accomplishments. Looking back at how the previous semester went is also good for setting future goals. It will be easier to remember how much you studied, how many classes you attended, and how well you did on assignments near the end of the semester, opposed to waiting until the next one starts. My suggestion to you is to take 5-10 minutes and think about the previous semester and what you were able to accomplish, as well as set a goal or two for how you can improve your studies come the winter term.

Exam crunch and how to stay healthy

Everyone is busy finishing last minute projects, bonus assignments and preparing for their finals, whether that be papers, projects or formal written exams. I am currently enrolled in the SSH practicum program and at the last minute came to the realization that come Dec. 6th, I must present my poster to the faculty and community partners.

My exam schedule is all over the place to put the icing on top. I have exams the first and last day with two others in the middle – however this isn’t my worst exam schedule. Second and third year I had three exams within 26 hours of each other, which meant I was super stressed. If you have this exam schedule, or a similar one I suggest you start studying now or at least plan how you will study, I believe in you though!

Here are some tips for staying calm and healthy during finals:

  1. PLAN- everyone I know who does well, studies over a period of time.
  2. Take breaks- your brain can only handle so much and after four hours your brain doesn’t remember as much; so take a quick 5-15 minute break
  3. If you can’t get a full 6-8 hour sleep try napping, there are so many articles on added benefits of naps – however, aim for 30 mins or less, you don’t want to be groggy.
  4. Eat regularly – eating regularly helps you focus and keep the energy you need to complete assignments and exams. Also eat healthy – we often grab take-out or pre-made meals and eating healthy will give your immune system a boost to keep you healthy during this stressful time.
  5. Breathe – during an exam or project when you feel frustrated, take a quick deep breath and clear your mind.
  6. Trust your GUT – you often know more than you think you do, even if C has been your choice for the last 5 questions.
  7. Visit office hour for last minute clarification.

If you are starting to feel a cold coming on battle it head on with soup, orange juice, and if you feel like it take cold and sinus pills. Sleep will be your best friend, take a day for yourself, it could help you in the long run.

Good luck my fellow readers on your finals! You can push through this semester and have a great break 🙂

Avoiding Financial Stress During the Holidays

This time of the year many of us face financial stress. The holidays can be expensive and fees for the winter semester are due soon. As students, most of us do not have unlimited funds and it is important to try and not rack up additional debt. There are lots ways to save money around the holiday. Here are a few:

  • Give yourself a spending limit – Figure out how much money you have to spend on the holidays. Don’t forget to including any additional costs you may face. Set an amount to spend on presents for each person on your list. Only donate what you can to charities, or even set a specific amount for this too.
  • Keep track of your spending and store all receipts – Your budget does no good if you don’t track your spending. A spreadsheet is an excellent way to keep track of where you have spent your money. By keeping receipts you are able to return things if you need to rearrange your budget. Having your receipts organized also becomes handy in case the sweater you give your dad doesn’t fit and he needs an exchange.
  • Cut back on extras/treating yourself – The little things add up. Avoid buying a coffee every morning and put that cute black dress back on the rack. If you are strapped for money, buying yourself gifts isn’t the best idea.
  • Try cheaper traditions – Holiday traditions don’t need to be expensive. Trying watching a favourite movie or building a snowman with your family. Going tobogganing is always fun too. Make cards and crafts with your friends, or have a baking party. If you love to sing, find a group to go caroling with. There are lots of fun activities you can do around the holidays which won’t break the bank.
  • Have a potluck – A great way to get your friends and family together is hosting a potluck. Ask each guest to bring one dish. You can enjoy some delicious food with great company.
  • Look out for sales – There are always sales going on. Keep an eye out for these when shopping for gifts and food for holiday events.
  • Start shopping early – There are lots of gifts you can buy all year long, so start shopping as soon as you can. This will also make your life a lot easier as you can avoid the jam packed malls.
  • Save money throughout the year – If you know you will be struggling to pay for everything during the holidays, put away a small amount each month in order to prepare.
  • Reuse wrapping – Bags, boxes, ribbons, and bows can all be reused for wrapping presents. These items can also be bought on sale after the holidays and found at the dollar store.
  • Know when to stop buying – You don’t need to buy everyone everything on their wish list. Most people would be content with a simple “Happy Holidays” or card. Getting gifts for people always feels great, but make sure you don’t go overboard.
  • Pay for things on debt or with cash – The best way to avoid debt is to put your credit card away.

Hopefully these tips help to reduce financial stress from the holidays. Remember to enjoy time spent with your loved ones and have fun.

Happy Holidays!

Fight Holiday Time Depression

We are socialized to believe that this time of the year is supposed to be the happiest – filled with food, family, cheer and even some relaxing time off. So why is it that the National Institute of Health reports that there is often a rise in depression, and although not the highest, but higher reports of suicide? Could it be the shorter days and darkening skies at 4pm? Is it the rise in SAD? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) These may contribute, but are not the root of the problem.

Often, this time of year comes with immense stress. Students are approaching final assignments and exams, work becomes busier and stress builds up. So what is it that really triggers Christmas blues?

  • Financial stress of gift giving
  • Increase in social events and family gatherings
  • Loneliness
    • This may be based on the loss of a loved one or loss of a job

So what should you do if you’re experiencing an increase in depression?

First, you should seek help from a qualified mental health practitioner, and if that seems overwhelming you can always confide in a trusted friend or family member who will help you find the proper resources you need.

  • Focus on the positive things in your life, try not to dwell on what you don’t have
  • Set boundaries, especially regarding your finances – don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself
    • Gift giving can be personal and budget friendly
  • If you are religious, attend respective events for your church or organization
  • Keep yourself busy – grab coffee with friends or relax by yourself with a good book
  • Exercise
  • Journal about your holiday blues
  • If old traditions are no longer feasible, make new ones
  • Volunteer your time to help organizations that provide assistance at Christmas time

There are many ways you can fight the holiday blues, but don’t forget that seeking help may be exactly what you need, it may help you understand an underlying condition.

 

 

Burning Out: Is it to early to think about this?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Burning Out” as   1) to drive out or destroy the property of by fire; 2) to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse.

Of course I am talking about the 2nd definition. As we are finishing up assignments and heading into our exam periods, it can become hard to be motivated. And for some, the potential of a good grade or passing a class, isn’t enough any more. The fire that was once lit under them – like the saying goes – is burning out. However, there are always signs. Below are Forbe’s “Top 10 Signs You’re Burning Out – And What To Do About It”. But like anything, please take this with a grain of salt and even add some of the signs you think were missed or even how you deal with it:

SYMPTOMS OF BURN OUT

  1. Exhaustion

A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

  1. Lack of Motivation

When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for to do work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.

  1. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions

You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything; feel more generally pessimistic. Negative emotions are becoming unusual for you.

  1. Cognitive Problems

Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate.

  1. Slipping Job Performance

Compare your work performance now to your performance in previous years, because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time.

  1. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work (or School)

This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers (peers) and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.

  1. Being Preoccupied With Work … When You’re Not at Work

Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. [Similar may go for when you are out with friends and you are thinking about school work]. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

  1. Generally Decreased Satisfaction

This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life.

  1. Health Problems

Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO PREVENT BURN OUT

Take Relaxation Seriously

Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Personal Life

Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).

Unplug

While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is key in resting your body and mind for the following day.

Get Organized

Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.

Stay Attuned

It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions both physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. As well as, mental signs like some of the top 10 signs.

Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them

Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones.

 

So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.

Well wishes, L.R.

Gerry, L. 10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It. (2013). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/#2d31e7185e01

End of the Semester Relief

Most students are extremely stressed as the end of the semester nears. I on the other hand am quite relieved. Winter break is soon approaching which means a nice break from school, spending time with my family, and Christmas (which is my favourite holiday). I only have more one paper to hand in, which I’ve almost finished, and then 3 exams to study for. I hate studying, but it’s much easier to do when I don’t have 5 classes to attend each week. During the exam period, I personally don’t find studying too stressful. I normally begin studying once I wake up, at least for an hour or two. Then I normally take a break, eating and perhaps watching a movie or wrapping a few Christmas presents. After my break I hit the books for a few more hours, usually until around dinner time. Most nights I don’t study after dinner and rather just relax, as by this point I am mentally drained and know that I won’t retain any more information. I also tend to rotate between course while studying, and aim to study for each course every day even if just a little. Of course I do prioritize my studying based on when my exams fall and which courses have the most material. I try to keep in mind that in a few weeks I will get to have a break from school and tons of time to relax. This helps me make it through exams without getting super stressed out.

Staying on task this time of year

The end of the semester is approaching deadlines are right around the corner and stress levels are at their highest, and not to mention the holidays are right round the corner. With all this going on I find it hard to stay on track, stay focused and actually get work done. We are so close to the end yet so far, we still need to hand in our last few assignments, study, make it through finals and somehow find time to sleep and eat in between there. This time of year, I struggle a lot to keep on top of myself to ensure I am getting things done when I need to. So I thought I would share some of my tips to keep on tract for anyone else who has the same issue I have around this time of year.

  1. Make sure to get organized and eliminate as many distractions as possible
  2. Make a to do list and a schedule
    • Prioritize the tasks
      • The hardest or most time consuming item first to get it out of the way
    • Include breaks in the list
      • Allow your brain to take a small break – it will help you stay focused when you get back to working
    • Set realistic goals and expectations
  3. Surround yourself with people that will help push you to study and get stuff done ahead of time
    • Avoid studying with people who are known to cram their studying time
  4. Make sure to eat breakfast
    • It will help you stay focused and energetic in the morning
  5. Set times to eat during the day
    • I forget this one a lot, but it is easier to concentrate when I’m not hungry
    • Stay away from greasy and heavy foods it will only make you feel tired and gross, which will make it that much harder to focus and concentrate when you go back to studying
  6. Must set time to get a good night sleep
    • A good night sleep is key to allowing you to be alert and focus during the day
  7. For a courtesy to other people you should also insure you set yourself time to shower 🙂
    • I personally find water relaxing so I count my shower time as one of my studying breaks
  8. Most importantly let your brain relax now and then and reward yourself
    • At the end of a long hard day treat yourself – whether it is to indulge in ice cream, watch a movie or an episode of your favorite TV show – allow yourself to take a breather it will do you some good
      • Personally since I love the holidays that are approaching, I relax by watching a holiday movie so that the kid in me is happy to 🙂
    • Discipline yourself when it comes to your free time
      • Don’t turn a 1 hour break into a 3 or 4 hour break

Just because this works for me it doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. But I thought it might help anyone who struggles around this time of year like I do, and has not found a good way to stay focused.

End of the Semester Stretch

Every time the end of the semester hits I always get super lazy and complacent. It always happens… I want to get my stuff done and over with, but I can’t seem to just get it done. I stare at the paper for hours… I just want to give up and be done, but there is still so much more to do that I just want to sleep and not worry about finals.

Finals aren’t even a thing for me. I can’t study because all I want to do is again sleep. Maybe do a little crying and some stress eating.. and some more crying. I literally just want the semester over and I somehow cannot see the end in sight yet it is LITERALLY RIGHT THERE. I can never know why I cannot just get my butt off the couch and get the stuff done!

How do I beat this stretch and get on the ball? Well… usually I stop crying and hike up my socks and just take a mass amount of breaks and eat waaaaay too much chocolate. It may be hard but somehow I always get it done.

Basically, just try your best and breath. You are not the only one who is trying to fight the stretch and you can do it!! I believe in you! Good luck and kick some finals butts!