toronto skyline and skyscrapers

How I Stay Sane During Final Assessment Period

There are only two things that make me question my sanity: my unfaltering love for TV shows from Spain and final assessment period.

Going through exam period is easily the most stressful part of being a student. It's a not-so-fun time filled with late night cram sessions, Khan academy and stress galore. I've long been a victim of the "exam period jitters" and until this year, I never believed there was a way to get through this time of the year with confidence and calm.

Recently, however, I've discovered that there are some things I can do to help me thrive during this period.

1. Blocking Out Study Times In Advance

The month before exams start is the perfect time to sit down at your desk and block out your upcoming schedule. I usually begin by writing down the due dates of all my assignments and the dates of all my exams. Afterwards, I love to plan out times that I will study for each exam and work on each essay or final assignment.

Using a daily planner and calendar helps immensely when it's time to keep track of doctors appointments, Zoom calls with friends, professor office hours and assignment deadlines. Personally, I've found that having every date organized in my agenda actually inspires me to get ahead in my courses and get work done in advance.

spread of bullet/art journal

2. Scheduling Regular Breaks

According to Psychology Today, taking consistent breaks between long stretches of work can actually increase productivity and decrease stress caused by exhaustion. I, for one, struggle to focus for hours on end, and I find scheduling time for relaxation is invaluable.

While it may be tempting to spend all of my time studying for my literature classes and preparing for long essays or oral tests, I've found that taking time to read or paint or draw or watch a Netflix show is sometimes a far better way to pass the time.

fawn-colored dog on beige bed

3. Playing With (or FaceTiming) My Pets

My greyhound dog, Clear, has been a lifesaver during this pandemic and I can quite genuinely say that I live for her cuddles and kisses. Whenever I'm upset about an assignment or finding myself feeling anxious, I place a FaceTime call to my family, and they show me whatever my pup is up to back home. Simply spending time with an animal is a surefire way to de-stress, even if it's just through technology. There's just something about the innocence and unconditional love of a dog that melts my heart and inspires me. Likewise, Toronto is a very dog-friendly city and I often find myself marvelling at the puppies in the nearby dog park or smiling at dogs on walks with their owners.

Research also shows that spending time with animals can reduce the release of stress hormones like cortisol and promote the secretion of relaxation hormones. Surprisingly, carving out frequent time with animals can even help lower your blood pressure.

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