Exam season is here! Feelings of burn out are probably far too prominent in your life. You’re wondering why on earth you decided that getting a post-secondary education was a good idea. You’re hating your alarm clock and caffeine has become your new friend. The end of the semester seems so close but still so far away! You have probably asked yourself “Can I survive this?” at least once a day. The Open Table is here to tell you: Yes, you can and WILL survive your exams. You just have to have a little faith. We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to survive this stressful period of exams. Head over to our Exam Survival page for more tips and tricks!

  1. Remember to eat well.

Food is your body’s fuel. It keeps you going throughout the day. Taking 10 minutes to eat a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner will do your body a world of good. Even if you don’t think you have time, there are options both on and off campus that can provide you with health food. On December 15th from 10:00am to 1:00pm, swing by the University of Ottawa’s University Centre and pick up a nutritious grab and go breakfast that will help you survive long days of studying.

  1. Get SOME sleep.

While you may not have time to get a full eight hours of sleep every night, make sure you are giving your body time to rest. Pulling all nighters constantly is just going to drain your body and make you feel sluggish throughout the day. Getting a good night of sleep helps your body process what you have learned throughout the day.

  1. Get outside for a couple of minutes

It may be hard to believe but there is an entire world outside of your dorm room, the library and whatever small corner you’ve set up your study camp in. Expose yourself to some natural light and fresh air. This will help you avoid falling into a zombie like state that too much exposure to artificial light can cause. Plug in an audio clip of a lecture or a reading for a specific class and go for a walk. Even taking the longer route to class in favour of getting some fresh air could benefit you in the long run.

  1. Do some basic exercises or stretches

A lot of people carry a lot of stress during exams which can have physical consequences on their body. Carrying too much stress in your jaw, back, shoulders or hands could result in your joints getting too stiff to write an exam or being able to sit comfortably. Sitting in the same position all day at the library could make some parts of your body seriously uncomfortable. There are lots of stretches you can do while studying or take a solid half an hour break to run over to the gym. Your body will thank you.

  1. Socialize with friends- in person

During exam time, staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day copying notes can be really straining on our social lives. Make sure you don’t totally ignore your friends when you are stressed. They can actually be your biggest support system in times of stress. Go get coffee or even organize a study group. This will decrease your sense of isolation and if you’re an extrovert, it can be a time to recharge emotionally.

  1. Take some vitamins

Vitamins can provide you with a boost of energy and could make up for any lack of nutrients that your current diet may have missed. While these could end up costing you a little bit of money, taking a multi vitamin or heading to the store when you know there’s a sale happening could make it affordable and easy for you to get a proper in take of the nutrients that keep your body healthy.

  1. Communicate with your professors.

It may seem intimidating to send your professor an email explaining your current situation but if they are an understanding person, they will hopefully be sympathetic to your stress and can offer suggestions on how to manage your work load. Worst case situation is they ignore an email but at least you can say you tried!

  1. Create a schedule

While procrastinating an assignment or pushing aside readings for a couple of hours just to watch an episode or two of Netflix may seem like a good idea, it could easily come back and bite you in the butt when you’re still working on an essay at three in the morning (it’s okay, we’ve all been there).  Create a schedule and include Netflix breaks, meals, studying and writing time. By following this schedule you’ll likely feel more accomplished and on track with your work.

  1. Avoid alcohol and drugs

Whether you’re a big partier or someone who only drinks on occasion, save it until after exams. Hangovers kill productivity and that headache will probably make you want to just crawl back into bed, not write that essay. Keep hydrated with lots of water and save those alcoholic drinks until you can actually relax. (Note: Any time you do decide to have a drink, ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE. Know your limits and always watch your drinks).

  1. Use positive self-affirmations

Stress can do a lot of really negative things to our psyches. You may be cursing yourself for not starting an assignment earlier or beating yourself up over the fact that you slept through a really important lecture. Take a couple minutes to breathe and remind yourself that you are worthy of love, respect and kindness. You can’t change the past so there is no point belittling yourself. Positive affirmations like “I am smart enough to be in this class” or “I know I am capable of getting this task done if I just focus” can really help you stay on track and motivated.

Good luck with the studying everyone! Hopefully we will see you at our Exam Survival Table on December 15th at 10:00am! Until then, best of luck with those exams and stay rad(ical)!


Emily Sams (uOttawa Community Development Coordinator)

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