Taking Time to Relax

As students we often feel as though we do not have time to relax, or feel guilty when we take a day off from studying. I know I personally do this. I will start watching a movie and feel as though there are 100 other things I should be doing. But sometimes we just need a break.

It’s important to take some time each day to relax. By doing so we reduce our changes of burning out and feel more refreshed once we go back to work.

Exams are creeping up which means everyone is stressed to the max! In order to keep sane, take short breaks while trying to review the entire semester in a few short nights. If you feel as though you can no longer be productive, it is definitely time to take a break. Have a nap, watch an episode or two of your favourite tv show, go outside for a walk, do something that makes you happy and relaxed. This will only help you accomplish more.

Best of luck on all your exams! Remember to make time to relax!

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Almost There

So here I am, another year of school has gone by. I have no more midterms, and two more assignments to go. This does not include the various things I will need to apply/interview for but you know what? I feel good. I’m almost at the finish line.

For some reason as exams draw nearer, I feel less stressed…for now. So I plan to enjoy it while it lasts. I can finally take a step back and breathe. I’m excited to be almost done my 3rd year of university, but also a bit sad because I will be graduating this time next year. I won’t go into detail and dwell on my future of what will happen even in forth year. Right now, I want to feel in the moment for once. Think about the current situation rather than the future. I want to enjoy my calmness while it lasts, although I know it won’t last long.

I would like to take this time to reflect. I feel this school year has been a lot about growth, grace under pressure and taking on too much. I’ve learned a lot. The most important I feel has been to give myself a break, physically and mentally. I may want to do all that I can and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but maybe that’s a good thing. Limits are a good thing because they let us know (no matter how stubborn we are or try to fight it) when it’s time to take a break or just move on. Limits give us a place to draw a mark in the sand, so we know not to go any further. And though I do believe that we all need to push our limits at times, it should not be an every day thing. I don’t want to push myself so hard and keep redrawing my line in the sand to the point where I don’t realise that I’m about to fall of a cliff or have life pass me by.

I want to have balance in my life. I know it will be hard, and I know it won’t be easy, but I feel ready. Obviously this comes after surviving one of my most stressful years in my academic career, now knowing that I can do it. But I don’t know, I feel confident. I know what success feels like and failure too. I’m still learning more and more about myself but at the same time, I’m not where I am when I first started university. Thus, with regard to the end of this school year, I am happy to say I am almost there. I made it. Not because of the late night study sessions, the lack of sleep, the countless commitments I made, but the people around me. Those I helped and those who helped me, even if they didn’t know it. And that’s a good feeling to have, so I’m going to hold onto it for as long as I can.

Well wishes,

L.R.

The Troubles with being a Social Introvert

Growing up, I have always loved being around people and socializing at parties. One of my favourite past times is hanging out with large groups of people because you will always find someone to talk to or something to do! Although I love to socialize, I’ve only ever had a handful of close friends, and as I’ve grown up the handful has gotten smaller as some of my friends have moved away.

Although I’m a socializer, I’m very introverted. I enjoy having time to myself, I am perfectly comfortable with watching movies alone over the weekend, and you will probably never catch me asking people to hangout after class. I feel super uncomfortable when I am faced with making the decision to try and get close with someone. My good friends have always been the more extroverted, who would plan the social gatherings and bring me along. Now that those friends have went across Canada and the US to different universities, I find myself in a rather strange predicament. I want to go out with friends, but am too shy to meet people. Peculiar dilemma, isn’t it?

The craving to socialize has always been there, but when you are placed in large classes, how do you do it? If you are going through something similar, I’ve devised a plan to help you (and I) get to know some university students without feeling awkward about it.

1 – Check out the sororities on campus! 

Looking at how close students in sororities interact with one another and really get to know each other is envious. I wish while I began attending university I looked into UOIT’s sororities just so that I could get to meet people and feel connected to others. Its a funny thing because my friends were ALL in sororities at their universities, and the amount of close friends they walked away with is amazing. You can find everlasting connections while on campus, and this is one of the ways to achieve them!

2 – Join a club or a committee that interests you!

Honestly, THERE ARE CLUBS FOR EVERYTHING! Just a quick google search of UOIT’s campus clubs makes me wish I would have looked into it earlier. Do you like gardening? There’s a club for that! Do you like art, drama, dance, or music? Clubs for that too! Are you religious and would like a place to meet others with the same religious values? There are clubs for that! What about humanitarian opportunities, board games, billiards, sports, SUPER SMASH BROS (I’m not kidding), like there is literally a club for everything. Find a hobby of yours or something that you are really interested in, and join the club to meet like minded people. You may have to pull of the bandaid of actually attending the sessions, but hey, think of all the cool stuff you’d be involved in and the amount of people you will meet who share your interests.

3 – Create a study group for your class!

This is something that not only will benefit you socially, but it can also benefit your grades (and we can all use that). Through blackboard, just message the whole class asking if people would like to get together for a study group, I GUARANTEE YOU people will respond. Even if you do not end up hanging out with the students on the weekend, it is still a way to meet people and to have that social fulfillment of being around others. You may meet your new best friend this way, you never know. Keep an open mind!

PSA to you all: Do not pull a “me” and go through your whole university career wishing you  met more people. I’m graduating in April and I regret not joining clubs or looking into ways to meet the students I’ve sat beside for the past 4 years. I seriously recommend looking into what UOIT offers, because I never did and I think it would have made my university experience THAT much better!

Time Management – How Do I Do It?

I am not trying to toot my own horn here but I am actually the best person I know at time management. I mean I would have to be with having two jobs, school full time, being on a committee and being a peer mentor…basically if I didn’t have amazing time management skills I think I would lose my mind. A lot of people ask me how I do it and I have decided to compose a list of ways you can be better at time management:

  1. Organization is everything – If you are not organized in your notes, daily schedules or things you do, then how do you expect to be organized in your head? I can admit I am not perfect and there are things I forget about all the time (supper is my best example) but by keeping some aspects of your life organized it will help to multi-task.
  2. Keep track of what you need to do, when you need to do it, and where – Keep a calendar, sticky notes, hell write it on your hand if it helps! It helps with organization, time keeping and it keeps you on track for what you need to do.
  3. Make a weekly schedule – Plan out your day, week, month, or even year! Determine how long you want to plan things for and do it. It honestly helps me when I know I have a deadline and make time around everything I need to do and what work needs to be done.
  4. Try to get your work done ahead of time – By making these schedules not only will you be able to work around other schedules like work and extra circulars, but you will be able to feel ahead of the game and be on the ball!

By following my list you should be able to be on your way to being a successful time manager!

Getting back in rhythm

Starting a new semester can be very daunting and frustrating, I know personally I am struggling to find my rhythm in my last semester. This led me to finding ways to quickly find a good rhythm to start off my final semester right and strong.  Some ideas that I have found to be successful thus far are:

  1. Having and planner or agenda
  2. Print off your class schedules
  3. Plan your readings and week
  4. Go to sleep and wake up roughly the same time everyday
  5. Stay caught up on readings
  6. Plan ahead for major assignments
  7.  Set aside time for enjoyable things
  8. Turn off distractions when in class or studying
  9. Sit with people who won’t be distracting
  10. Focus on on task at a time

Hopefully some of these tips will help you keep on track as we enter another semester. Remember, planning is a big part of staying on top of many things in school.

Sea-Set

The End is Near… and the Anxiety is Real

Going into my final semester of my final year of University is well.. bitter sweet. I have worked very hard to get to this point but at the end of the rainbow is there really a pot of gold?

Now I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am pretty deathly ill and it’s just the cold medicine talking, or if I am still really just a little baby who does not want to adult, but the anxiety of this being over is super real and hard hitting. Do I want this to be over and all my hard work pays off and I get that beautiful piece of paper that cost me about 60,000 dollars or more? HELL YEAH I DO… but at the same time then I have to go out and get an adult job and what if that doesn’t happen?

Granted I mean I am taking another program (my family likes to call me the professional scholar) so that should give me time to reflect and take a step back and prepare myself for the future… but the future is scary and I don’t know if I am ready to get out of my blanket fort and put down the crayons. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.. maybe we can get a secret fort club together and try to one by one take it down eventually? Or we could just continue to color in coloring books until the inevitable happens. What do you say?

Positivity goes a long way, and hell so does a good nap and a blanket! Adulting can wait, til next time folks! PS. Join my club please, it’s lonely here haha

  • Trisha

 

 

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 🙂

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.