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Support and Wellbeing

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During Exam Season

University can become very stressful sometimes and it can be hard to find time for yourself or your health. Check out Manasa's blog should you need any tips.

neon sign that says good vibes only

I’ve found that in the busyness of studying for exams, going to practicals and tutorials, everything else in life can end up on the back burner. I’m not saying you must journal every day without fail and meditate 5 times a day. There are some passive things you can do that really help you have smooth days during exam season.

It’s important to remember that as important it is to study, it’s important to not over stress about exams. Too much stress can cause you to under-perform!

Get a good breakfast

The one thing that I always remember to do during exam season is make sure I get a good breakfast in the morning. I’m not saying a quick coffee or a small orange. I mean a good breakfast. In theory, we should be getting a good breakfast every day, but in the rush to get to 9 AM classes, I will admit to sometimes falling short of a good breakfast. But during study days, we’re using our brain all day to study, and we need the fuel!

breakfast cereal with strawberries

Remember to do one fun thing everyday

Exam season can get repetitive and tiring. It’s important that we give our brain a “palate cleanser” occasionally. Somewhere in your study day, do one thing that excites or makes you happy. Like a treat! It will give you something to look forward to everyday and it can also help fuel your studies. Some days I would treat myself to a nice coffee, a nice lunch, or a little shopping trip with a friend. It doesn’t have to be big; you just must like it.

Bubble tea
Get a bubble tea as a little treat

Take time to journal

This one’s a classic and I had to include it. For some of us, the best way to unload the weight is to literally take it out and put it on paper. This really helped me during exam season because it allowed me to sort through my thoughts while also contributing to the two hours. There’s no framework or rules about journaling, just write whatever you would like. It’s like venting to your friend but to a book instead and you can let your thoughts go as random as you like.

Person writing in a journal

Don't forget about your friends

This one is important (especially if you are an international or a GB student). Exam time can become really isolating because as soon as class if finished, you go right to studying. If you’re like me and you like to study alone, it can be easy to not see anyone else for days on end. Which is not good for your mental health!

Humans are naturally social creatures, and we need to see people. I’m not saying you must always be out with friends, but even studying for a few hours together can really help. This is also a very good study tip because studying with friends or a group can fill in knowledge that you missed. It also gives you a chance to see your friends and the breaks can be more fun.

Try Meditation

Just like journaling, I had to throw this one in as well. I have some friends who swear by the yoga classes (from the PEC) or the app Calm. Meditation can be so beneficial to get out of your head and just get some peace for even 15 minutes. Again, it doesn’t have to be intense breathing exercises or intricate yoga, just do what works for you. There are tons of 10-minute meditation videos on YouTube that just take you through some meditation exercises to reduce anxiety.

woman meditating

Plan ahead to avoid stress

This goes without saying, but planning really helps you not over stress when it comes to studying. You can set it up like a regular school day or start later (I prefer starting a bit later and having a nice lie in). The most important part is having a strict cut off time. Make sure that you set a time where you put the books away and just relax in whichever way you want. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed with work and prevent exhaustion.

Switch up your location

Just as you go to another location to do your lectures or practicals, I find it useful going to a different location to study. Some people prefer studying at home, but I’ve found myself to be more productive when working in a designated study space. It’s important to set that divide between school and home because it’ll allow you to study and focus in one place and then unwind in another.

I used to study at home in my bed and I found that this was awful for my mental health. I was always stressed out and I felt like I couldn’t get away from it wherever I went. Even just shifting my studying to another room or the desk was a huge improvement.

McClay Library

Just to reiterate, these are all just suggestions that I found helpful for me to have an easy-going exam time. Either way, there’s no way there can’t be a little bit of stress during exams, but I hope these methods can put your mind at ease.  

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Manasa Ramakrishna

Medicine | Undergraduate Student | Canada

I’m a 20-year-old international student from Canada and currently studying Medicine. I figured the best way to combine my love for science, travelling and working with people would be to do international medicine. Outside school, I do classical dance, sculpture and biking!

Manasa Ramakrishna