A student standing at an area filled with snow

Learning to be compassionate with myself during exam season

It’s here. Exam season is here. How are you feeling?

For my first exam season, I want to be compassionate with myself. One thing I learnt this semester: University of Toronto lives up to its reputation of rigor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that...

I’m spending the next four years in this school, and I don’t want to leave this place feeling tired and miserable. So, I believe it’s important to take the time to learn how to be compassionate with myself and make my time here extremely worthwhile!

Here are what I’m starting to do:

Eat healthy food

No matter what, I try my best to eat dinner properly. Properly as in, I sit down and eat a full meal, without rushing and stressing about my next schedule. If it’s not dinner for you, it can be breakfast. It can be lunch. Anything, as long as it’s once a day for you to sit, eat, and breath!

Pro tip to start cooking for yourself: invest in groceries. Once I buy those groceries, there is no way I will not cook for myself. Food is expensive, so it forces me to make use of them properly!

Acknowledging emotions

It’s always okay to have emotions during challenging times! It’s normal. If you're having a hard time to focus because you're worried or anxious, allow yourself to STOP. Stop whatever you're doing: go take a walk, a hot shower or a nap. Let yourself breathe.

Whenever I’m struggling to process something emotionally, I write it down. I don’t always journal, but I turn to writing during overwhelming times. Writing helps me stay grounded with my thoughts and allows me to process them properly.

More sleep and slack

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been drinking more coffee and sleeping less. I’m sure a lot of you are going through the same thing too! When I first started the semester, I was so eager to use the weekends to catch up with classes and study. As the semester gets harder, it's hard to stick to a sleeping schedule during the weekdays. Instead, I have allowed myself to sleep in and slack a bit for the weekends. I think it’s okay to slack a bit, especially if you knew that you’ve worked hard!

Doing something that's not about academics

I’ve been planning for the holiday season. I am so in love with this city! I’m experiencing so many new things: the snow, the Christmas vibes, the winter, and so so so so much more! It’s extra exciting, especially since I grew up in a tropical country that does not have four seasons. With all these hopes and plans, I feel less stressed out about going into the exam season. It’s because I realize that I have things other than exams in my life. It’s important to have a balance!

Whatever ways you try, being compassionate to yourself is about allowing yourself to be imperfect. This exam season is going to be rough, but I’m hoping to take away something that’s not only about knowledge. I hope that’s true for you too!

"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." - Buddha

Good luck with exams!

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