Running around campus, trying to manage 5 classes, clubs, work, and professional development leaves little time for leisure as it is. Throw midterms into the mix, and I’m bound to max out by the end of October.
Two years of mistakes and outright failures taught me how not to mess up. I’ve learned not to wait to do my readings right before the midterm. Or to double check which exam room I’m in so I don’t end up in the wrong one (throw back to first-year physics when I realized I wasn’t where I was supposed to be 5 minutes into the test).
Here’s a few things I do now to avoid burn-out
- Eat well. Skimping on meals to save time only made me feel more tired.
- If a full night’s sleep isn’t possible, take naps during the day.
- Avoid all-nighters when possible. I use these as a last resort.
- Wash my face twice a day. It’s important to maintain my skincare routine and to take care of myself.
- Exercise! I take walks if I don’t have time for the gym in the morning.
- Take advantage of office hours and don’t be afraid of emailing professors with questions. This is the time to access available resources.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. When I’m stressed about an exam, I’ll want to spend more time studying. This usually cuts into my sleep, which leaves me tired for the day of the test.
- Talk to friends on a daily basis. It’s important to maintain friendships and talk about stress so it’s off my shoulders.
- Pace myself. It’s tempting to want to demand to do everything right now, but that is just not going to happen, and expecting to do that is a let-down.
- Keep track of things coming up. Make and maintain lists. In first year I lost 1% because I forgot to do a something for a participation mark. That 1% was the difference between a letter grade. It still stings a little.
When I lived in res first year and midterm and exam season rolled around, everyone around me would enter a state of high-stress. It made sense – a lot was riding on these few weeks. We all want the best grades we can possibly get. What I learned from my first two tumultuous years at U of T was to get better grades I had to be the best version of myself. I needed to figure out how to wake up in the morning feeling ready to tackle the day. Much of that process involved following the above list.
My stress in third year cannot compare to the intensity of what I felt during heated times when I was new at U of T. Perhaps I’ve adapted to my courses or figured out how to learn better. But undoubtedly, figuring out how to maintain good mental health has been integral in this process.