Stress? What stress?  Final exams? OMG! You can do this – and help is available

 

Stress is just part of going to university. No question. It seems like  it is a necessary  “co-requisite” of the whole educational program package. There is by  the  way,  an unsubstantiated rumour going around that on the very bottom of the application for admission that you signed there is a disclaimer in very small tiny print saying  that ”the university  accepts  nor  responsibility  for any extreme amount  of stress  or physical  symptoms  such as recurring caffeine-induced  headaches,  or  reports of nausea,  diarrhea (sorry too  much  information) or  other  physical  manifestations  of  distress likely  caused from  excessive  studying  or  other onerous course  demands (e.g.  group  projects  with  uncooperative  group members,  etc.)”.  Perhaps another  urban myth but we  might  be  able to  see some truth, as  well as humour in this story.

The MRU semester is like the movement of a train. It’s totally stopped at the station on the first day of classes, and everything looks  great for a nice train ride starting  this day. But then the doors  close,  everyone  takes  their  seat and the momentum picks up quickly.  Before  you  know  it  is mid-term time and assignment deadlines are coming at you, like  the posts that  seem to fly  by  as  you  glance  out  the  window.of a speeding  train.  By this time in the semester it is full steam ahead with sound of the engines roaring and the blaring of the horn heard a kilometer away. Everyone is usually going full out –  juggling assignments, group projects, term papers and then realizing and gasping – “OMG – final exams are only a couple of  weeks away!!” At this point – the first week of December – there is no slowing down. But  help is  on  the  way.

First action required  right  now…. 

finalexams2

     ……”JUST BREATHE!”

So first, just  “BREATHE!” that’s  right  take a  deep breath  in and let  it  out… slowly.  Its  going to  be  okay. There  are  a  number of  thing  you  can  do to  get  through  this.  But really now,  do  you just  want to survive? No, you want to thrive!  And  ultimately  you  want to  see  that  you can  flourish.  We  can  offer some  sound  evidenced  based  suggestions  (get   your  head  around  this  term if  you  have  heard it  before, it’s important and remember it).  What  is  important  is to do  things  that  work  for  you  and engage  in  activities that are purposeful  and  intentional to help  you achieve  your  goals. It’s  about  figuring  out what  matters  most,  and  seeking  out support  to help you get  there.

1.Get  organized. A  number  of  studies report  that  the  people who  are  successful organized and  this  applies  to university students  regardless  of  academic discipline. Did you notice this  connection with  the  word  here  “discipline”? Organized and discipline  equals  higher  follow-through  and  success rate. Let’s  clear  up  another   misconception, or  myth,  getting  organized  is a  skill  that  you  can  learn-it’s  not  just a genetic  trait or gender  controlled  behavior (would  be like  saying  “I/you can’t learn  math  because  of  my/your  gender”). I still  hear  this   at  times.   We can all  improve at being better  organized  and managing  our  time  more  effectively.  But  there is  more  – much  more.

 

  1. Get the Tools for  Success and  Get Assistance. Create  a  specific December/April End of  Semester  Class and  Study Schedule. If  you  don’t  have  a  template  for a  study  schedule for  the  last  month of the  term,  and  aren’t feeling  creative  you  can  one  see  the  Writing and Learning Services (T123) for  this and  many  other  resources and  learning  strategies. There is still a  lot  you  can do  in  the  last  few  weeks  to  raise  your  marks  and  nail  the best mark  you  can  realistically achieve yet  this  semester.  There is still  time but  you need to  really get  on  it  now! Make every  day count.  Stop/reduce  doing  things that are  not  moving  you  towards your  academic goals.  Reduce your  paid work  hours if  you can.  Even a  few  extra hours  can make a  big  difference in  the  home  stretch.
  1. The bicycle wheel and  knowing your spokes:  Think  of  the  metaphor  of a  bicycle  wheel. Each  spoke  you  can  bend on  its  own.  But with  twenty-five  other spokes  this  can  provide a  solid  interconnected  structure that can  also offer incredible  support  and  cushion  “your  ride” so to  speak.  Imagine yourself  as  the  hub  of a  bike  wheel (sounds  funny  okay, but  hear  me  out).  A  flashy  titanium hub  strong and  solid.  But the hub needs to be connected to each  spoke  and then  to the  outer  rim and  tire  to  give  us  a  sense  of  complete  connection and  wholeness.  Ask  yourself  who are  the individual  spokes  on  your Wheel? Think  of  this as  your  academic and personal success wheel?   Sketch  out   picture  of a  bicycle wheel  with  the hub and spokes and  wheel and let’s  work  with this  drawing.
  1. Connections and support: No one person alone can be  your  sole  support and meet all of your needs to be successful in university. Think of all of the different people you know in your world who can help you in different ways to achieve Academic success this semester. Are there people in your class that could be part of the fantastic study group for final exams? If so, consider each person in terms of how much they have contributing class and they have really done their homework and showed up throughout the semester. Then you might want to approach them to see if they would be willing to be part of a group where everyone would do certain degree of preparation that could be shared at regular meetings between now and the final exam. This can work very well but there needs to be real clarity and understanding about the expectations and  commitment  from each person.
  1. Reach Out: Also, who  are  your “go to”  people? People  you  can  reach out  to for  assistance  to  read  over a  paper,  talk  academic things  through or  may  have  some general expertise in  an  area  you  are studying.  Could  be a  parent,  sibling, aunt or  uncle,  or  friend?  Write  their  names  down  and  how to  contact  them  (text,  call, email) also  check  ahead  and  see  if  they might be  available  for  questions  and support. Ask for what you need!
  1. Activities for self-care and specific exercise/recreation. If you’re feeling a heightened degree of worry or stress at times which is completely normal, make sure that you are building in activities for self-care and specific exercise routines to help you deal with some of the feelings of stress and fatigue that come with an intensive degrees of studying in a short period of time. This could be another spoke on your wheel. Write these out and identify who each spoke could be as you look at a sketched out a picture of a bicycle wheel with different spokes this can also help you have a sense of understanding that you’re not in this alone and that there are good resources that could be of help to you.

 

  1. Campus Resources:  Don’t hesitate to use the resources here on campus that are part of MRU student services. As the name suggests, these are services here for students (like  YOU).What better time to take advantage of these great resources in Student Counseling, Health Services, Health Services  and  Optimal Therapies (they have great massages by  the  way; which can be covered by your student insurance plan). These are all located in the  MRU Wellness Center  at U216 (look  for the big  orange  wall- you can’t miss it
  1. The Puppies are  coming: There are all these services and more both in the main campus and in Student Association.  There are so many activities at this time of year to help students deal with stress.  Next week, The Peer Health Educators and  SAMRU are putting on there annual and ever popular event of bringing the puppies to campus  for  stress  relief  and  just a  pure joyful, playful, and  fun experience. Come  and  meet  the  puppies. Wow what a  great  time!  While this won’t get your major paper written by itself, by taking a stress break and playing with the awesome puppies;  this  can lighten everyone’s load for a while and bring back a refreshed and renewed perspective. Check it out!  Notices will be on you’re my MRU account as well as posters around the campus.
  1. Supports for Staff and & Faculty:At the beginning of the article it spoke about stress that affects everyone including faculty and staff as the semester goes on and everyone’s workload increases dramatically. It  would  be  remiss  not to  mention  some  resources  for  these  important  members of our community as well. There is an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provided for all MRU staff and faculty by Homewood Human Solutions.  This  can  be a  good  place  to  start  to  look  for  help  when  things  are  excessively  challenging and  stressful.  They offer  many  face-to-face (f2f) services, as well  as  online counselling and resources.   There is counselling and support for   individual employees but also family members,  as we strive to find that elusive balance and also be  healthy and vibrant. Human Resources also offers a number of other  wellness programs for employees
  1. Student Counselling  Services: Students who wish to make an appointment with Counselling Services can drop by  U216 at  the Wellness Centre or  call  403-440-6362. Appointments  can we made to  see  counsellors any  day  of  the  week.  Some drop in  time   is  available  every  day  generally  between  11:00  and  1:00 p.m.   Urgent  cases  and specifically  crisis situations  are seen  as soon as is possible.
  2. Health  Services:Students wishing to book an appointment can drop by the wellness Center or call 403-430-6326  for  an  appointment  to  see a  Physician.  There are  three  Family Physicians  and a  Psychiatrist  on  staff  along  with a  team  of  Nurses and  support health  professionals.  It  may  take a few days for  an  appointment  during the  busy  part  of the  semester.

Thanks for stopping by and for reading the article. Focus on you,  and what  you  need to  accomplish. But remember you need to  come  first  and  to  be  healthy  and  happy.

Please check  back  soon  for  further posts and  updates  as  we  go  launch some major revisions and  changes  to the  site. JD

 

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