Midterms, assignments and quizzes – there are plenty of reasons for stress and anxiety to build up and take control of your day-to-day activities. At times, everything feels overwhelming and you can’t figure out where to start. As a Commerce student, I know first-hand how tough it can get. But with most problems there is a solution, and as the cliché goes, where there is a will, there is a way.
During my time as a student at U of T, I picked up several tips on how to manage stress levels while studying, especially during midterms and finals. Here are my top five stress relief methods for studying:
1. Take time for self-care
Your health matters the most above everything else. For that, you need to have a nutritious diet that doesn’t include two-minute, ready-to-eat meals. For instance, try incorporating more fruit and granola bars into your daily intake to help maximize your energy and keep you determined to tackle your day. Also, get an adequate amount of sleep. Even though it seems like sleep may take away from your study time at night, a well-rested brain allows for more knowledge retention and, hence, better efficiency when studying.
2. Make a checklist and stay organized
Having many assignments, tests and quizzes coming at you all at once can be overwhelming. To cope with what seems like a million deadlines, I decided to make a checklist or a task list at the start of each month. I did this by categorizing easy tasks and hard tasks and then listing them down in terms of difficulty. What this does is it gets the easier tasks out of the way so that you can focus more on the difficult tasks. It also gives you a rough pathway to follow rather than doing things at random. Knowing what deadline is coming up in relation to other courses reduces the worrying. Installing a task manager app such as TickTick will help keep your checklist handy so you can refer to it when you’re on the go.
3. Take adequate breaks when studying
Studies show that breaks in your study routine can positively affect your attention abilities. During the second year of my program, my professor introduced the class to a studying technique called the Pomodoro Technique. It greatly increased my attention and studying span. The technique is a time management method where you break down studying time into intervals of 30 minutes of study time using a timer and then take a five-minute break before the next 30 minutes of studying. It’s so effective because the timer brings about a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have the whole day to work on something, the brain is made to believe that you only have a set amount of time to work on it and, hence, it is more motivated and determined to get it done.
4. Have good time management skills
Always be mindful of deadlines and assessment dates, and work towards completing the project or studying well before test time. It feels like it is easier said than done but it avoids piling up everything a few days before and having your stress spike up exponentially. Give yourself ample time to work on it to allow for a more composed thinking environment rather than a stressed one. Strengthening this skill will really help you in the workforce, too.
5. Strive for balance and enjoy yourself
Being at university is one of the best times of your life. Have a balanced social and academic life. Don’t isolate yourself, but rather be in the company of friends and family and share your university experience with one another. You’ll always find some good advice when you share your problems because everyone is different, and everyone brings new and exciting things to the table. Go out to social events, and most importantly enjoy yourself!
Osama Saeed, Fourth-year Commerce, Accounting Specialist, Department of Management Work-Study Student