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Up to the challenge for exam time

[Stauffer Library]
Exam time can be stressful so Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator at Student Wellness Services, suggests students take a comprehensive approach when it comes to staying healthy and managing stress. (University Communications)

Exam time is often a time where increased levels of stress, long hours of studying and little personal time can add up to an overwhelming situation for some students.

To help students along the way, Student Wellness Services will be running the 15 Days of Exams Health Challenge across social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator at Student Wellness Services, suggests students take a comprehensive approach – looking at the bigger health picture – when it comes to staying healthy and managing stress at exam time.

“Physical, mental and social are all important aspects of health and the goal of the 15 Days of Exams Health Challenge campaign is to highlight that students should focus on taking care of themselves in all three areas, especially during exams,” she says. “The big goal for a lot of students is to manage their stress during exams, and the way to do that from our perspective is to make some time to take care of yourself.”

Each day a health tip and informative image is provided along with a challenge that keeps students engaged. Students who participate by sharing their successes or challenges are then entered into a draw for daily prizes provided by local sponsors. To participate, simply follow Queen’s University Be Well on Facebook, or @queensubewell on Instagram or Twitter.

As with most things at Queen’s this year, the challenge has taken on a 175th anniversary theme. Organizers have invited a number of alumni, including some past volunteers, to share wellness tips or a story about how they stayed healthy during exams.

“We are really excited to have alumni involved this year, as they can be a great source of inspiration and support for our students,” says Ms. Humphrys.

While exam questions may be complex, managing your health doesn’t have to be. That’s where self-care comes in. Being proactive about managing your stress – taking the time to be active, eating healthy foods and stay socially connected – are all very beneficial.

“We know that students who prioritize their health during exams will be able to manage their stress a bit better,” Ms. Humphrys explains.

This can include getting a proper amount of sleep – most people need seven to nine hours a night. Evidence shows that getting enough sleep at night helps with recall, memory consolidation, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, all important to be successful when writing exams.

Taking regular breaks from studying also helps, Ms. Humphrys adds.

“Even taking a 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of studying makes a big difference in your ability to focus and retain information,” she says. “You can use that time to do something active, like a stretch break or a quick walk, or even talk with a friend or family member for that important social connection.”

All simple steps, but, as is often the case, easier said than done. That’s where making a plan comes in. Once again there is help at Queen’s through Student Academic Success Services (SASS), which offers special pre-exam workshops in Stauffer Library as well as advice from Learning Strategists. 

One of the key tools offered is the Exam Study Schedule, available online. The strength of the schedule is its simplicity. In a high-tech world, sometimes the best way to get organized is by writing it all down on paper, and that includes scheduling time for breaks and eating properly. 

Even with these resources, some students will still need further support and Ms. Humphrys encourages them to visit Student Wellness Services, located 146 Stuart St., where they can book an appointment with a counsellor or physician and get the help they need. The LaSalle Building is currently undergoing roofing repairs but all services remain available.

If you are a student and are feeling stressed about academics, you can book a Learning Strategies advising appointment by calling 613-533-6315.

Students who wish to make an appointment with Counselling Services at 146 Stuart St, LaSalle Building, can do so by calling 613-533-6000, ext. 78264. Counsellors are also available in the Facilities of Engineering & Applied Science (613-533-3447) and Education (613-533-2334), and the School of Graduate Studies (613-533-2136), School of Business (via Commerce Portal), and Residences (613-533-6000, ext. 78330 or 78034). 

Another resource for students is Good 2 Talk, a 24/7/365 post-secondary student helpline which offers free, professional and anonymous support. They can be reached at 1-866-925-5454 to talk about any stressful issues students might be experiencing.