April 29, 2021

7 tips to help you destress after exams

While it’s common to feel overwhelmed during exam season, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for students to find healthy ways to unwind once the semester ends. With increased isolation and mounting stress, student may find it difficult to prioritize their physical and mental health wellbeing.
7 tips to help you destress after exams

There are steps you can take to help you calm down, reduce your stress, and enjoy your time off.

Trust in your own ability

It’s easy to get caught up obsessing over the exams you just wrote. Fight the urge to compare how you did with your notes or with classmates. If you experienced pre-exam stress, it is likely that you will be overly critical of how you did. Obsessing over a mistake can just result in extra stress about something you cannot change. Trust in your own abilities and be confident that you were prepared.

Catch up on sleep

While maintaining a regular sleeping schedule during finals is important, it is equally as important to give your mind and body a chance to reset after the smoke clears. Sleep serves to reenergize the body’s cells, naturally cleanse our lymphatic system, and support learning and memory. Let yourself catch up on some much-needed rest. Allow yourself to sleep-in without setting an alarm and if that’s not an option, try going to bed early and getting in 8+ hours of sleep.

Reset your routine

Take some time away from electronic devices. This will not only help you physically relax, but it can also help decrease the effects of overstimulation after weeks of information overload. Unplugging could mean more than just taking a break from your computer or phone - as difficult as it might be to change locations, staying away from your desk will help you reset your routine and clear your head of anything school-related.

Get moving

Physical exercise has been shown to boost serotonin levels, improve sleep quality and increase your oxygen levels. Although it might be the last thing on your mind, physical activity will significantly help you destress. Remember, exercise doesn't have to mean pushing yourself too hard. Low impact exercise like yoga, walking and cycling can improve your mood and calm your body. Plan a hike in one of Calgary’s many city parks or consider going for a walk around the neighbourhood. You can also book virtual fitness classes at UCalgary Active Living.

Plan your break

It may seem like an obvious tip, but your holiday break should be used as a break. No matter how brief, try using this time off to engage in something fun that you’ve been putting off. Remember that an academic break doesn’t account for the other stresses of everyday life that can quickly pile up, so fill this time off with something that makes you feel good. Plan a trip or connect with others virtually and organize a games or activity night.

Check in with others

You’ve just had your head buried deep in your notes for weeks and may have had little to no contact with your family or friends. Be sure to check in and let them know how you’re feeling. Talking things through with others can provide some new perspectives and take your mind off your school-related stress. If you are in need of mental health support, there are on-and off-campus services that can provide you with the support you need. Please contact Student Wellness Services at 403.210.9355 or book an appointment online.

Safer substance use

While it is normal to want to indulge in vices during this time, it is helpful to know what steps you can take to make responsible choices. Avoid stockpiling alcohol, cannabis, and other substances and try and incorporate “dry days” throughout the week where you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. It may be helpful to set a limit to how much you will consume. Apps like Saying When can help keep track and set goals.

Naloxone kits are available at Safeworks, Sheldon Chumir Health Centre, as well as most pharmacies across Canada including Varsity Pharmacy on campus.

Drug test strips are available at Student Wellness Services, Varsity Pharmacy and Residence Services. Contact yasmeen.nosshi@ucalgary.ca for more information.