How Volunteering Defeated Stress

When I think of October, grainy vignettes of nights spent in Robarts during extended hours begin cycling through my memory. Moving images in sepia of myself weeping as I struggle to finish multiple essays due the next day; or in grayscale, of myself flustered as I burn my tongue on my second pot of coffee in an attempt to stay lucid while I rush to learn neglected chapters because the midterm is in nine hours, are two of the many depressing images that I automatically associate with this spooky month. Sometimes, for tolerability’s sake, I accompany these memories with a cameo of a sad panda playing a tiny violin. Essentially, October has come to represent an exhaustingly, unhealthy concoction of sleepless nights and excessive stress.

A photo of a white tablet sitting on top of an open green binder filled with notes with a fluorescent orange highlighter at thelower right corner of the open binder. beside the binder at the top right corner is a stainless steel water bottle and beside it a sign that has "Theft" written in bold, red letters acrossit, beside the sign is a plug and from the blug a white cord runs from a charger to the bottomof the tablet.

Researching paper #2

Surprisingly, this is where volunteerism has swooped in to save the day.

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De-stressing Through TV Shows and Movies

October is HealthyU month at U of T, an entire month dedicated to celebrating physical and mental health! October 17-21 (starting today!) is Self-Care week, which promotes ways to take care of yourself physically and mentally as well as how to de-stress. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially thought about self-care, I wondered, “Why do I have to be concerned with how I’m doing?” Well, after some careful consideration, I realized that if I don’t care for myself, I get burnt out…easily. I can’t always be on the go, go, go (although I do enjoy that) because otherwise all aspects of my life: social, academic, and personal would suffer.

My not-so-secret way (according my friends and family) to de-stress from the enormous amount of midterms I have coming up all in the same week (scary) is to watch some good TV shows and movies. But first, let me explain the source of my stress. I prefer to study in 2 to 3 hour blocks, even though concentrating for that long can sometimes be difficult. Finding time to study for that long can also be difficult, especially with my other commitments. Sometimes I feel stressed out because I feel like I haven’t studied enough. However, at the end of my long studying sessions, I mostly feel like I’ve just come out of a deep slumber, blinking rapidly and looking around wondering “Where am I?” 

Picture of Robarts Library

Robarts in the Winter: a building that pulls me in for many hours of studying

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(Unfortunate) Member of the Procrastination Nation

Hi, my name’s Liana and…I’m a member of the Procrastination Nation. It’s a magical nation where I go to avoid all of life’s responsibilities and PROCRASTINATE. I discovered the Procrastination Nation fatefully in the 9th grade when I said to a friend, “There’s a whole group of us that procrastinate. It’s like we’re in our own world,” and thus, the Procrastination Nation was born.

Picture of Liana covering her face with her hand

Me when I see that I have too many things to do…

In all seriousness, it was just a silly term that I used to describe moments when I was procrastinating school work and was off to the “Procrastination Nation”, meaning that I would do anything to avoid actually working. But the funny thing is…I’m a “planned” procrastinator. I know what you’re thinking, “Liana, please stop throwing all these random, weird terms you’ve come up with at me.” Okay, okay, I promise I’m done. But really, I’m a planned procrastinator which means I actually PLAN when and how I’m going to procrastinate, instead of doing what I actually need to do.

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Self-Care Queen at U of T

It’s only a month into school and midterms are hitting us already. In my agenda, there is this backlog of assignments and all the due dates happen to fall within the same week. It happens every year and I’m always looking for more tips on how to stay positive during this time.

this is me at 2 years old and ice-cream is still the only thing that makes me completely stress-free!

this is me at 2 years old and ice-cream is still the only thing that makes me completely stress-free!

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(Barely) Imparting Senior Student Wisdom

Hello new semester! Don’t you just love the buzz around campus this time of year? You know, its that time in the semester where midterms haven’t taken over life yet, the weather is still amazing and you have a whole new batch of stationary to play with. Okay, that last one only applies to me and a handful of very cool people.

It’s also that time of year where I usually make tons of new goals and try extra hard to get this whole studying thing right.


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‘So Long, Winter!’ (or, ‘Later, Midterms!’)

“English summer eating up the atmosphere
Day-time bathers sleep in the shade
Clouds crawl over dampening our attitudes
People run for shelter from the pouring rain”

– ‘English Summer’, by The Moons

Well, we did it. Mild or not, our first winter here in Toronto has come to pass, and we’re in one piece! With one final flurry of tests, I’ve wrapped up midterm season, too. It’s a peculiar feeling – one on hand, having so many evaluations has made time pass by awfully slowly. On the flip side, it feels like freshman year has passed me by entirely too quickly.

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It’s Still Reading Week…Right?

With the passing of reading week, somewhat begrudgingly, this past Monday marked the restart of classes. While the break definitely provided a much-needed period of rest, trying to get back into a school mindset the past couple of days has been quite the challenge. When we were in high school, spring break was the closest equivalent, but the difficulty levels of the courses puts the re-adjustment period on a level of its own.

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Tackling My First Reading Week

Reading week is a great time to take a breather after a flurry of midterms in the weeks prior. I’ve heard from friends who joined one of the multiple organized trips to Montréal, and even those who flew back home for the week. For the laz — er, I mean, studious members of the community, staying around may have been the more appealing choice. At the end of the day, for whatever reasons may have come about, we’re still in downtown Toronto, so we might as well make the most of it…right?

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Discover #JoyAtUofT in the Little Things

“It’s such a cold, cold world (hello cold world)
And it’s got me down, but I’ll get right back up, as long as its spins around
Hello cold world” – ‘Hello Cold World’, by Paramore

The winter blahs are still in full swing, and we don’t even have snow this year to brighten things up. On top of that, midterms are here to keep us preoccupied. Thankfully, February also happens to be #JoyAtUofT month, to help us get some inspiration from each other as we attempt to stay positive in a time of year when it’s all too easy to be down.

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too...

On one hand, El Niño took care of the heaps of snow I was warned about. On the other, the lack of snow is kinda depressing, too…

I can definitely relate. Granted, I don’t have any full-year courses this year, so I didn’t have any assignments/essays due at the start of the semester. Midterms have come along equally brutally, though. I know I complained about them last time around, but the added blasé of the season seems to amplify their effect on my mood. Grey skies, wet concrete, and barely a hint of snow on the ground have characterized many of the days I’ve had to make the walk from Chestnut to campus.

It’s times like this that finding some joy in life can really make or break my productivity levels. I’m way more likely to get things done when I don’t feel like Eeyore all the time. Amidst all the chaos, squeezing in time to do the little things that put a smile on my face is definitely worthwhile. Frantic as I should be studying, spending time relaxing in the common room among friends can lighten the load on my shoulders, even if it’s just for that brief period of the day. It could even be as simple as making a food run to Med Sci with the gang. Getting out and pursuing hobbies such as photography have a similar effect, letting my heartbeat and stress levels fall to healthy rates.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Getting out with my camera is a great stress-reliever, and definitely brings me some happiness during this seasonal lull.

Joy for me also comes from extracurriculars. Being a member of this awesome Student Life Community Crew has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for any other; I get to see some of the most creative people I know, every week. From hearing their ideas in the meetings, to reading the final product each day, it’s easy to see why Student Life chose them to represent the student body in this way, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. The Blue Sky Solar team that I signed up for just a couple of weeks ago, has already proven to be a source of escapism from the world of academia, if only for a little bit at a time. Researching alternative designs for software, with the promise of soon getting the chance to actually write the code to match, has been a great ride so far.

The weather might be uninspiring, but there’s still plenty of things that manage to lighten up the atmosphere. Be sure to share what brings you #JoyAtUofT on Twitter and Instagram – I’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag to get some ideas!

New Year, New Me!

“Woke up this morning I was laid out flat on the dark side
With the moon and the room on the wrong side
I took a needle, sewed myself right back at the seams

I saw my universal gleam” – ‘Flick of the Finger, by Beady Eye

Liam Gallagher might not have the same vocals he did back in Oasis’ heyday, but his last effort to bring back the glory days with his (now disbanded) Beady Eye did bring back some of the open lyrical interpretation the band was known for instigating – but I digress. Nevertheless, it makes for a great quote that can relate to the idea of starting the new year with resolutions. It’s a time of year when – for whatever reason – you can see your errors more clearly, and when you decide to pick up the metaphorical needle and attempt to sew yourself back together again. I’m not typically one to fall into the societal norm of setting resolutions specifically to ring in the new year – but given that this will be my first full year as a university student, I decided to give it a shot.

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