Balance, Profs, Student Life, Study, Work

Dealing with stressful weeks

University of Toronto campus

Last week was one of those weeks – three exams and two midterms. And I was sick. You can imagine the stress. I like to look back and reflect on particularly stressful weeks mainly because it’s interesting how despite how much we complain, we almost always pull through. And because during these times it’s not easy set 2 hours aside for yoga or relaxing with a friend, I find it’s the little things in the day that really do the job.

One of my previous posts spoke about creating a sense of accountability and sense of belonging in class to enhance your course experience, and last week I saw the results of exactly that. Like before my cognitive development midterm when I was nervous and sleep deprived because I had been coughing almost all night and the professor gave me a reassuring smile and told me I could take the midterm later if I was feeling too unwell. Or when I couldn’t make it to my creative writing course because I was too sick and my prof replied  Or when I couldn’t make it to any of my TA’s office hours and she called me to her workplace so we could discuss an assignment. Everyone has those weeks. And professors’ and tutorial assistant’s will understand that regardless of what kind of student you are. But think about it – if you’ve been putting things off all semester because you’re okay with last minute studying, you’re counting on that one time period. That one time period that could go wrong. That one time period you might not be well. That one time period something outside your control could happen. And I know it’s just easier to assume and plan things in a way where we’re always capable of finishing the work and pulling the all nighters — but what if we’re not? Well things just spiral out of control then because you haven’t been working consistently, you’ve been avoiding office hours, your professors’ and TA’s don’t really know who you are and you can’t really get anything done right now because you’re sick – it’s a mess!

But what if you had worked consistently the weeks before? What if you had gone out of your way to ask questions? What if you had gone to one or two of those office hours? Well then your professors’ and tutorial assistants will understand better. If they know you’re a student who works consistently they’ll respect that you need some time off to get that rest and that your performance might not be so great that week. My creative writing professor really doesn’t like it when his students miss class so he could have sounded disappointed but he knew that I had consistently shown him work during the classes before and so he could tell me not to worry about it at all and take time off to rest and recover. He didn’t even require a doctor’s note. But if I was the kind to skip every other class and miss deadlines, he’d probably doubt my last minute “I’m feeling too unwell for class today” email.

All I’m saying is – we all have those weeks where some random element just throws all our plans off. And it’s okay to have those weeks, we can’t change them. But we can change how we prepare for  them and having a good bond with your faculty is definitely a step in the right  direction.