Student hacks: The Sleep Edition

Oh, the romanticization of the coffee-addicted student who sacrifices their sweet slumber at the expense of marks. It is no secret that at some point during the semester, many students will lose sleep over their assignments and exams.  But let’s face it, sleep deprivation is awful—so awful that it is technique of torture! Lack of sleep leaves me feeling run-down, blunted and unmotivated. Realistically though, getting less hours of sleep is often unavoidable for students because of our busy lifestyle that sometimes feels like we’re juggling eggs on a unicycle.

As you may realize if you’ve been following my posts, I love all things efficient and self-experimental. So I’ve decided to look into hacking my sleep using different methods to optimize my time awake and asleep. Here are my results in a nutshell (and yes, they’re all quite subjective).

Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/pEPocGaLWGVxK

Sometimes we’re all a little tired.
Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/pEPocGaLWGVxK

1: Lucid Dreaming to Accelerate Motor Skill Acquisition

What is this about? Dr. Dax Urbszat, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto describes lucid dreaming as “the act of being conscious—or what others would call “awake”—while dreaming”. Basically, lucid dreaming entails being aware that you’re in a dream state while sleep, which enables you to control your dreams. Studies have shown practicing a motor skill in a lucid dream can speed up its acquisition1.

The experiment: I play squash a lot and I like learning different techniques to improve my game. One of these is the power serve. However, I have a lot of difficulty with bringing my racquet behind my head and snapping it to the front to hit the ball and actually put power behind my serve. So, I decided to induce lucid dreaming 3x a week for 4 weeks and practice this specific move in my sleep. If you want to try lucid dreaming as well, here’s a how-to guide. (link: http://www.wikihow.com/Lucid-Dream)

Results: The hardest part of this experiment is actually inducing a lucid dream state, which takes some practice. Overall, I think it did help me refine my technique faster. By the end of the second week, my squash partner observed that I snapped the racquet back a certain way that I hadn’t done before without prior rehearsal except during my dreams. I wouldn’t recommend dreaming lucidly too often though, because it leaves you feeling faintly like you haven’t slept.

2: Placebo Sleep

What is this about? A new study (link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24417326) has shown that people who were told they slept better performed better on cognitive tasks (whether or not they actually did sleep better).

The experiment: Over a period of a month, whenever I got less than 8 hours sleep, or felt tired, I told myself that I actually got high quality sleep and felt rested. I also picked out a friend who I would tell upon seeing him that he looked like he had gotten a great night’s sleep.

Results: This only worked if I believed what I was telling myself. Some days I was so tired that it was hard to convince myself. As for my friend, he told me he felt a bit more energetic when I told him that he looked like he had a good night’s sleep, even when he said he was tired (Note to self:  don’t tell friends that they look tired, when they look tiredJ).

3. Actual Sleep

What is this about? There comes a time at 3am when I ask myself whether I should keep studying and pull an all-nighter, or go to sleep with what I know and go to the exam as well-rested as possible

The experiment: If I view the past 3 years of my student career as an experiment, then I can say that I’ve done repeated trials of seeing the outcomes of staying up and pulling an all-nighter, or going to an exam well-rested.

Results: I do much better going to an exam well-rested. The fact is information that you’ve learnt consolidates in your brain while you’re sleeping, so it’s important to let it seep in while you sleep!

Do you get enough sleep or do you feel sleep deprived? What are your sleep tips and tricks? Let me know below!

Gloria

Selfies (at Robarts)

Our Community Crew Captain, Abdullah, posted the most honest, groundbreaking tweet that I’ve seen in my 5 months here at Student Life:

Ah, the fabulous Robarts selfie. You’re guilty, I’m guilty. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone in your obsession with taking photographs of yourself when you should be studying.

Styles, angles, and locations all tell you a lot about the individual behind the Robarts selfie. One thing that ties all of our masterpieces together is the fact that we are all students, we are all tired, and we all dread the first announcement – “the library is closing in 45 minutes” – that’s basically asking us to get the heck out of the library at 10PM on Friday. You are not alone in the struggle to April, comrade.

Here are 6 common types of Robarts selfies that you might find on any given U of T student’s MacBook. Much love to my friends and colleagues that agreed to let me use their images!

1. The “I don’t get this concept so I’m going to take a selfie” selfie.
ModRobarts
2. The “I don’t want anyone to catch me taking a selfie” selfie.
Souleik
3. The “checking that your hair is in place and making sure you still look cute” selfie.
AnnissaRobarts
4. The Not-Quite-A-Selfie Selfie

5. The “I look too good to be here, let me take selfies instead” selfie.

6. The “I don’t care if people catch me taking a selfie because I’m over this day” selfie.

(This is me! Hello, everyone)

(This is me! Hello, everyone)

I want to see your selfies at Robarts! Tweet your selfies with the hashtag #SelfiesAtRobarts and show us how hard you’re working.

Reflecting on the beginning of the end

My usual reluctance to leave the holiday cesspool of unproductivity is further complicated by a sad realization that I will soon not have to deal with this problem anymore.

This is my last semester at UofT.

IMG_9550new self-portrait.

We all start our undergraduate careers thinking about the possibilities that the next few years will hold for us, without realizing how quickly those few years will slip by.

There are many things I wanted to do, that I managed to do,

  • Get involved with on campus extra curricular
  • Discover what I was interested in
  • Live well in a city I am unfamiliar with
  • Learn how to cook
  • Make fabulous friends
  • Make a snow angel
    (Coming from the tropics, this is a big one, I have my first experience on film)

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 12.20.41 PMa still of me executing perfect snow angel form from aforementioned film.

There were also things I didn’t plan on, but did anyway,

  • Pull multiple all-nighters
  • Work at a soup kitchen
  • Read a ridiculous amount of literature in a short time
  • Eat too much food truck poutine
  • Do a random minor completely for fun
  • Fall badly on the ice at least once every winter

IMG_8145

the UofT student diet.

With one semester left, I decided to compile a list of things I wanted to do before graduated:

  • Go see a collection at the Justina Barnicke gallery in Hart House
  • Use as much wifi as possible
  • Go to a couple of free lectures/talks
  • Use the career center
  • Enter a poetry contest
  • Study outside when the weather gets nice

I also wanted to conquer my fear of talking to professors more openly, so I will be conducting some professor interviews this semester and writing about my experiences.

What else should I do before I graduate?
What do you think are some must dos at UofT?
Follow #TryitUofT on Twitter to catch events all over campus.

 

Staying Productive Over the Holidays

They say that what really defeated Hannibal Barca in his war against ancient Rome was the winter he spent at Capua. His soldiers became soft. They ate and drank and slept and relaxed, and when spring came around they were unfit for the tough demands of soldiering. I think you know where this is going . . . 

The Holidays are upon us! Well, soon. And over our nearly month-long break, it is tempting, tempting, tempting to throw away all cares and concerns and succumb to complete mental and physical abandon. OOH YES!!

BUT doing so tends to make returning from the Holidays much more arduous. Luckily, there is a beautiful word and a wonderful idea that relates to this exact predicament:

Balance 

A healthy balance between relaxation and reasonable productivity is exactly what the Holidays call for.  Here’s what I do:

Sleep . . . in.

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/kitten2.gif

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/kitten2.gif

I sprawl in bed throughout the morning. I need the rest. But I always get up before noon. It’s a terrible crime to sleep in past noon. Everybody knows that!

Eat . . . what I want.

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a43203493/always_hungry

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a43203493/always_hungry

I eat only my favourite foods. And I eat a lot of them. My favourite foods provide the best nutrients because my body likes them so much, and I need to replenish my fluids. All I eat over the Holidays is shrimp and asparagus. Warning: This rule could make you hate all your favourite foods.

Read a book . . . that I enjoy.

http://reederreads.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/funny-gif-baby-reading-book.gif

http://reederreads.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/funny-gif-baby-reading-book.gif

That’s easy because I find every book enjoyable. Reading helps keep my brain active, but not too active. I try my best to read a book that has a higher percentage of words than pictures. Pictures books are not books, their called magazines.

Talk to someone . . . about nothing.

http://washingtoncouldlearnalot.com/2013/09/gibberish/

http://washingtoncouldlearnalot.com/2013/09/gibberish/

I try my best to avoid talking about anything over the Holidays. I like to clear my brain. But it’s hard. Conversations are so easily started, and once they get going it’s hard to walk away. The best way to talk about nothing is to eat a lot of your favourite food!

Sleep . . . more.

http://o.canada.com/uncategorized/watch-these-cats-fall-asleep-in-hilarious-ways/

http://o.canada.com/uncategorized/watch-these-cats-fall-asleep-in-hilarious-ways/

Once I’ve done all the other stuff, especially after I’ve eaten some of my favourite food, I find it helpful to go back to sleep. Sleep offers priceless restorative powers for both your body and your mind. In fact, most doctors say we should probably sleep at least once every day.

And if I feel like it . . . sometimes . . . I review my old study notes. But I don’t really have to explain the merit of that one. You’re a university student. You get it.

 

Have a great break, U of T!

- Stephen

How to fine tune your caffeine intake for the daily grind

My relationship with coffee started in first year when I first saw it in a pot across the breakfast table. At first, I would only see it in the mornings, often accompanied by cream and sugar. Gradually, as I got to know it better, cream and sugar dropped out of the picture, and our rendez-vous in a cup alone became more frequent—sometimes extending into the night. It was a crazy love story alright: too little coffee and fatigue grew over me as I yearned for more; too much coffee and nausea, jitteriness and anxiety would follow. Just the right amount and I felt ready to take on the day.

Our love for something has a tendency to drive our curiosity to know more about it, and it was no different for me in the case of coffee: how do I fine-tune my caffeine intake so that it’s just the right amount?

Well, it turns out there are different ways of fine-tuning your caffeine intake

1. Cultivar determines caffeine content: Arabica or Robusta

Source: http://zaydee-kaine.tumblr.com/post/39532025131

Source: http://zaydee-kaine.tumblr.com/post/39532025131

Cultivar is a term used to denote species of coffee plants, which can be either Arabica or Robusta. A general rule is Arabica beans have about half the caffeine as Robusta. There are also variations in caffeine content depending on the variety within the cultivar.

 2.The degree of roast has virtually no effect on caffeine content

Source: http://joshdelacruz.tumblr.com/post/67665529402

Source: http://joshdelacruz.tumblr.com/post/67665529402

Roasting is more about the flavour than caffeine content. There are laboratory analyses showing that darker roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts. However, the difference is so minuscule it almost doesn’t matter.

3.How fine is your grind?

Source: http://vimeo.tumblr.com/post/57185884143/kew-gardens-beyond-the-gardens-the-forgotten

Source: http://vimeo.tumblr.com/post/57185884143/kew-gardens-beyond-the-gardens-the-forgotten

The finer the coffee grind, the higher the caffeine content. Different levels of coffee grinding is also related to brewing method. For example, beans used for filtered coffee are less finely ground than those used for Turkish coffees.

 4.Brewing method

Source: http://nurturexyourxtemple.tumblr.com/post/67650323860

Source: http://nurturexyourxtemple.tumblr.com/post/67650323860

Brewing methods that take longer and use higher temperatures will contain higher levels of caffeine.  This explains why espresso has a lower caffeine content than filtered coffee.

5. Amount

Source: http://sometime-after-3am.tumblr.com/post/57794895449

Source: http://sometime-after-3am.tumblr.com/post/57794895449

This one is pretty self-evident. Don’t drink 5 cups of coffee if you’re planning to do open-heart surgery afterwards.

Figuring out optimal caffeine intake can be tricky sometimes because it differs between people due to individual biology, and it also changes as time goes on due to tolerance.

Playing around with the variables led me to explore local coffee shops and the discovery of a wide range of coffee flavours and textures. I hope you have just as much fun as I did fine-tuning my coffee intake.

Happy Studying!

Gloria

Face The Music (and Mid-Terms)

On the school calendar, the first semester might as well highlight the months of October and November as not the months that belong to fall, but to midterms instead. Like I have mentioned before, midterms are notorious energy-drainers. It’s easy to lose momentum and plateau when the majority of your day-to-day schedule revolves around doing school work. So I like to keep an ever-growing playlist of songs to help keep me determined to not only survive, but ace mid-term season, and to remind me that yes, it is possible to slip in a little exercise in between working.  I like to match the music that I listen to according to how I feel, I also like to listen to songs that will help me to find the energy to exercise.

Here are three songs that keep me on track in between my sleep, eat, work, eat, exercise, work, sleep (well, not all in that order) schedule:

TV on The Radio – Wolf Like Me
The colder the weather, the sleepier I get, and the more I envision myself becoming best friends with the heater in my room. Lately, my body is trying to retreat into a three-month hibernation, so just waking up has been struggle —my brain is like an overheated computer that needs to take time to load. So while it’s in the “buffering” mode, I like to play an upbeat song such as Wolf Like Me as an alarm clock to help me wake up. Listening to a song about being an unstoppable force of energy inspires me to get out of bed and prepare myself to start the day in a not-so-sluggish manner.

Sky Ferreira – You’re Not The One
For those who know me personally, my favourite type of cardio is the “dancing like crazy in my bedroom”-type of cardio. Dancing (in my room) is cathartic, because I can jump up and down, do a twirl here and there, all while no one is watching me. Whenever I put on this song, I forget the fact that I’m exercising because I’m so immersed in moving along with the tempo.

One day I’ll make my dancing debut. VIA MICSGIFS.TUMBLR.COM

I’ve also been using this song as a motivating tool to complete my assignments, or readings, by creating “dance” breaks whenever I feel like I am running out of energy or losing focus. Most recently, I came across this song (via the recommendations of many music review blogs), and have used it as my go-to track when starting my ten-minute breaks to do cardio. I like to say that I don’t like pop, but I secretly do—and I must admit, this song does glam pop very well. It’s lively, and is also about moving on and not dwelling on the past, and I take heed by dancing away my worries. I’ve come to realize that I need to open up my options when creating a song list in order to get me on my feet and moving. And since I used this song during my break in between writing this post, I can tell you that opening up my options has been working so far.

King Krule – Out Getting Ribs
During mid-terms, I’ve still managed to go to my Pilates classes at the Athletic Centre, but I’ve fallen behind on going to the gym more than once a week this month. However, I’m still determined to not spiral back into my past sedentary lifestyle, so I’ve kept active when dancing in my room, or practicing my Pilates moves. One of the main motivators for me right now is that I can do a killer plank without slouching, and that I’ve moved on to practicing other positions and exercises, such as butterfly crunches, (I lie down on my back and lift my legs in a slanted positions, all while doing quick breaths and waving my arms just above and below my abdominal muscles).

Sometimes, when writing papers, I hit a roadblock and worry about whether the words that I have written on the page make sense. This kind of anxiety makes it easy to lose focus. So I use what I’ve learned in my Pilates class, take a break to do a few moves and refresh my mind—but not without the help of music playing in the background.

I like to stick to dreamy and calming music that sometimes have a rising tempo—and the beginning guitar riffs in Out Getting Ribs do just the thing. Also, the song isn’t’t too slow so that when I do pick up my pace in doing moves like butterfly crunches, I can at least keep my body in sync with the beats. As well, I like to end my night feeling relaxed, and this song helps to soothe me into resting mode.

Sleep, eat, work, eat, exercise, work, sleep schedule still intact.

What songs do you listen to when you feel like you need to calm down, or get up and going?

Why I Might Pretend to Embroider Kanye West Quotes at Parties

The other week at a party, a stranger asked what I did. I told them I was a student at U of T. But then they said, “No, what’s your thing? You know, for fun.”

So I just paused and stared blankly at them.

“Are you just really into school?”

It was getting worse by the second. I was mortified when I was unable to respond. For fun?! Was I really just into school?! The horror!

I repeated what I was studying and then left to go get another appetizer.

How the conversation ended. (via giphy.com)

After that party, I went into a state of shock. Realizing that I have no hobbies was troubling. Especially since I used to have many things I did for fun. I used to play sports and write poetry and go to interesting events and…now I just stare blankly when people ask what I do for fun.

Trying to think about what I do for fun. (via giphy.com)

I had wanted to say something witty and self-deprecating like “For fun? Oh, you mean when I sit around in my PJs and watch TV until I hate myself?” but I didn’t think of it in time.

And I could have mentioned that I went to a curling bonspiel last week and enjoyed it a lot.

Or that I blog and “Haven’t you heard? It gets published every week online. Life @ U of T is kind of a big deal.”

But I didn’t say any of those things. Instead, I was the person who is “just really into school”.

Life of a U of T student (via giphy.com)

How ‘being really into school’ makes me feel. (via giphy.com)

Determined not to repeat the scenario again, I thought about all the cool things I could do that could also be easily dropped into a small talk conversation.

There are free dance lessons on campus, intramural field hockey next term, and scuba diving courses at Hart House.

How I feel when I talk about geeky things. (via giphy.com)

Dancing at free dance lessons. (via giphy.com)

But after talking to a few friends, I figured out that I actually already have fun. (All hope was not lost.) It is just that my interests are difficult to describe at a moment’s notice.

So the next time I’m asked what I do for fun, I will either talk about some geeky thing I am interested in and hope the other person also likes dynamical systems theory or I will troll the unsuspecting stranger with precious gems of ridiculous hobbies that I will pretend I have.

At one party, I may be an avid eavesdropper. At another, I may embroider Kanye West quotes.

My new favourite hobby. (via etsy.com)

My ‘new favourite hobby’. (via etsy.com)

Some days, my one true passion will be crushing my parents’ dreams. (Too true to be funny though…) Other days, I’ll be into extreme ironing (yes, with an ironing board and clothes on the side of a mountain).

Extermeironingrivelin

(credit: Phil Shaw via Wikipedia and Creative Commons)

And hopefully my actual interests or my interesting sound bites about extreme household sports will allow me to avoid any blank staring and “just being really into school” comments for years to come.

-Kay

*If you have an interesting hobby, I’d be glad to hear about it in the comments section. I promise to use some of them in conversation with strangers at parties :)

Difficult Conversations: Conversations as education instead of confrontation

University life is fraught with plenty of difficult and intimidating conversations, which many students try to avoid like the plague. Some of these conversations lie within the academic sphere, such as explaining to a professor why you think you deserve more marks on a midterm. Others lie within the social and emotional sphere, such as disclosing to friends the effects of low marks on your self-esteem and asking for support.  But sometimes, the most difficult conversations are the most important.

Many students struggle with asking something from others, and/or disclosing information about themselves.  For example, telling someone that we no longer want to be in a relationship with him or her, and then having to explain why, can be very difficult. One reason why such conversations are challenging and stressful is  because most of us do not have a lot of experience at this, and most of us don’t want to cause others suffering. Nobody likes to give or get bad news—and it is doubly worse when you are the messenger!

However, avoiding  these conversations can lead to negative consequences. By not having the conversation about what we need from others, especially when we perceive the need to be great, we are denying our own needs, which can be stressful, and this can also lead to the deterioration of relationships. A prime example of this is asking roommates to contribute more fairly to their share of chores.This is often awkward and unpleasant. But, if you do not address the issue, then you run the risk of resenting your roommates for something  they may not even realize  is irritating you. You are also missing the opportunity to reach an understanding and resolve the issue.

Source: http://raysofdawn.tumblr.com/post/10044718011

Source: http://raysofdawn.tumblr.com/post/10044718011

So, is there a way to make it easier to have heavy conversations? Yes. And it is not unlike  exercising: the more you do it, the better you get at it, even though the exercise itself may not get any easier.

The approach that one takes when having a difficult conversation is important. Here are some techniques that have worked well for me:

  1. Go into the conversation with the intention of acknowledging both your feelings as well as  the other person’s feelings—and then reaching an understanding. I have gotten to know my roommates very well using this approach. Difficult conversations are a great place to learn about other people’s values and attitudes.
  2. Be calm. An emotionally charged conversation conducted by a highly emotional person is a catalyst for disaster.This situation is usually unproductive because nobody understands why the other is feeling the way they do.
  3. Be prepared to really listen to what the other person has to say. Again, this encourages mutual understanding and respect.

So, the next time you feel like avoiding a difficult conversation, just remember: if you never ask, you will never get.

What are some strategies that have worked for you?

Gloria

The Jolly Season of Midterms

Oh midterm season, that dreadful time of year when everyone hides in their rooms or at the library, with their heads buried in their textbooks, forgetting that they ever had a social life. As a second-year student, I know the drill now. But nonetheless, I’m still worried because each year, the work becomes harder. This time around I don’t have any exams, which I am glad about, but I have two papers and two presentations to complete. At U of T, no one escapes midterm season scot-free; there is always something to study for.

The thing is, I know that I won’t get anything done when I’m stressed out; I put things off until the eleventh hour. And even though I’m probably going to leave one of those assignments for the classic do-it-all-in-one-night style (hey, it’s a student tradition), I still want to be, and to feel, at the top of my game. So, at the start of the week, I made a list of goals to keep my head in check:

1. Go to the gym at least once alone and once with a friend (maybe this is how I can be social again).
2. Keep attending Pilates classes.
3. Between reading a chapter, or writing a paragraph, stop and stretch for relaxation.
4. Take time to do the much appreciated “treat yo’self.” Seriously.

Parks and Recreation had this right all along. –VIA SPIFFYPOP.TUMBLR.COM

When it came to actually completing my to-do list, I was running short on energy, but still managed to reach these goals.

1. Gym?
I was aiming to be one of those “I-wake-up-at-6:00AM-to-go-to-the-gym”-types of people, but this week was devoted to night time exercising. Also, it was easier to go with a friend at night since we both had an evening class together. Even though I wasn’t active during my planned time, I was still being active nonetheless. After all, the most important part was that after returning back to my room, I was calm enough to be able to sit down and focus on my readings.

2. + 3. Doing Pilates + Practicing my stretches
I attended my Pilates class, but it was a struggle. I fell behind on practicing my planking, which I’d made a pact to perfect since last week. The night before Pilates class, I stayed up until 4:00AM doing readings and editing a paper. I woke up early  all groggy and exhausted. In retrospect, staying up so late (or early, if you’re a grim thinker) wasn’t the best decision, but I didn’t want that mistake let me skip my Pilates class, and cause a chain reaction for the rest of the week. So I went!

And you know what? When I left the AC after class, I felt revived. I was still drained from the lack of sleep, but I was calmer, and had more patience to carry on with the rest of the day. Also, I did manage to slip in some time to practice the plank afterwards.

Don’t pull an all-nighter. Your eyes will punish you for it. —VIA GIFGARAGE.COM

4. Time off + Motivation
Also I did manage to take time to achieve number four on my list, that “treat yo’self” task that I promised I would do. After completing my first presentation, I decided to take a hike to a cute café in Kensington Market. There I lounged around while sipping some blueberry honey tea. It didn’t hurt that the café made a great place for me to study at the same time.

And another thing that’s helping me to get through midterms that didn’t make my list? Making plans to join in on fun events. I realized that I needed some extra motivation to push through my never-ending pile of assignments. Most of all, I need the balance that being social brings. There’s an upcoming MoveU event coming up, Scary Skate, on October 31st. Also, it’s free, as in free to attend, with free refreshments, and free skate rentals—as a university student, I am shameless to say that free is my favourite word. Although I guess in this case, free comes with a cost, since I have a fear of skating. But I’m curious to try it out. And if I can survive midterms, then I’m confident that I’ll survive giving ice-skating another chance.

Even this goat can skate better than me. –VIA 4GIFS.COM

So now, it’s your turn to tell me dear readers. What have you been doing to keep active (and survive) this midterm season?

Things that make me anxious during mid-term season

It’s that festive time of year again when we celebrate the midpoint of the semester by donning our favourite sweats, while subjecting ourselves to sleep deprivation and massive amounts of studying. These rituals often take place collectively at Robarts or any 24 hour Tim Hortons. Those who survive the festivities often leave with a mean caffeine addiction.

This event is infamous for its ability to instill anxiety in students that can be felt across campus. Without further ado, here are the things that make me anxious during mid-term season :

1. Just knowing that it’s October.

Source: http://animisensa.tumblr.com/post/47142847738/i-keep-seeing-pictures-on-facebook-with-the-dates

Source: http://animisensa.tumblr.com/post/47142847738/i-keep-seeing-pictures-on-facebook-with-the-dates

I might not look like that on the outside, but that’s probably what my inner self would look like.

2. When my friends and I argue over who is more stressed than the other.

Source: http://gif-reactions.tumblr.com/post/37644113632

Source: http://gif-reactions.tumblr.com/post/37644113632

I don’t even know why we waste time on this. Nobody gets a prize.

Instead of engaging in counterproductive bantering, why not become each other’s support system. For me, it’s easier to get through studying with friends than alone because I feel less stressed. The bonus is that being less stressed provides for better cognitive function—like memory!

3. Realizing the amount of testable material for the midterm.

3

Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/63493671283/over-1-000-followers

4. Realizing the amount of testable material for the midterm that I haven’t read.

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

I find that the best way to deal with this type of anxiety is to stay on top of my readings every week. That said, if I find myself in a position where I still have chapters that I’ve barely touched and a limited amount of time to know them, the most efficient learning system for me is to read over my slides first and pick out the topics mentioned in them from my textbook.

5. When I look at the test paper and it’s written in alien.

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

I find it is reassuring for me to know the format of the tests, to look over past tests to gain familiarity with the types of questions, and to be prepared for the level of testing difficulty.

6. When my brain decides to forget everything during the exam…

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3x03

Source: http://tragically-epic.tumblr.com/post/53250473329/reaction-to-teen-wolf-3×03

7. … and then remembers all the right answers the second I hand in the exam.

Source: http://ginger-dad.tumblr.com/post/55630194799/that-moment-you-think-your-baby-might-be-stronger-than

Source: http://ginger-dad.tumblr.com/post/55630194799/that-moment-you-think-your-baby-might-be-stronger-than

Test anxiety affects thinking ability either through the mechanism of “blanking out” or having racing thoughts that are difficult to suppress. I will often take a few deep breaths before reading over my exam as a way to relax myself and to relieve my anxiety.

8. Realizing there’s only 15 minutes left in the exam and I’ve only completed a third of the exam.

Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/54097691892/surpassed-600-followers

Source: http://motionlmags.tumblr.com/post/54097691892/surpassed-600-followers

I find the best strategy for this again, is prevention. I scan through my test for the first 3-5 minutes of the exam and allot time for each section. One of the worst mistakes I have made is spending too much time on the short answer question, and leaving no time to answer the long questions where the bulk of my mark resides. Now, I actually work backwards by doing the long answers first, before moving on to the short answers.

9. When everyone but me walks out of the exam early.

Source: http://gi-jew.tumblr.com/post/27542717929

Source: http://gi-jew.tumblr.com/post/27542717929

I’ve learned to focus on the test instead of how empty the room is getting. I tell myself: “the time it takes other people to complete an exam is a variable independent of your abilities!”

One thing is sure: feeling anxious is very natural during exam season. In fact, anxiety is a good thing to feel in limited amount since it can help motivate us to do better!

These are things that I have tried and that work for me. What stresses you out and how do you deal with it?

If you have tried various coping techniques and the anxiety still feels uncontrollable and/or interferes with your studying and test-taking, you might want to check out the resources at the Academic Success Centre or Counselling and Psychological Services.

Cheers,

Gloria