Caring for Your End-of-Semester Mental Health

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Exams are just around the corner, and with the stress of final assignments, studying for tests, and possibly having work responsibilities, stress management and short-term mental health is paramount.

Coming up at UNB Saint John are a few workshops and events to aid in exam stress and mental health, plus other options for at-home, during your studying.

On Monday, November 30, there will be a stress management workshop with April Bauman in G31 of Oland Hall.

UNBSJ will also be holding a therapy dog event on December 8 from 12 – 3pm in the foyer of the Ward Chipman Library, upstairs from Tim Hortons. Relieve exam stress by spending time with registered therapy dogs.

The Baron recently spoke with Ana dos Santos, guidance counsellor, at UNB Saint John. For short term stress relief and mental health, Santos suggested that students go to the workshop on Monday.
“Rather than just talk about what stress is, and defining it, and all of that … I am wanting to offer them some tools, some take-home tools so that they’re assembling their own toolkit, so students can learn what works for them and what doesn’t when it comes to stress relief.” Santos says that she plans to guide participants through some different stress reduction techniques.

As for long-term mental health, Santos suggested that “the short term techniques that people can start to assemble a toolkit for themselves…those are techniques that can be used as a self-care upkeep kind of thing to prevent us from going into what’s called hyper-arousal”, a state which Santos explains.

“Once the demand starts to get too high or we start to experience stress, we kind of go into this fight-or-flight response … it keeps this high level of chemicals running through our bodies to help us fight ‘the bear’. These techniques help people to take that hyper-arousal and bring it back down to their window of tolerance”.

These techniques, Santos suggests, will help everyone both in the short and long term, including exam time and the final week of classes.

Santos also recommends “highlighting the importance of [proper diet and sleep habits] those very, very basic things that we do for ourselves. The more demand there is, the more quickly some of those very basic things, like taking the time to find nutritious food and finding the time to sleep as well as taking the five or ten minutes that might be very helpful to use one of these techniques”.

A few other techniques  suggested is utilizing the free workout classes on campus, Yoga in particular, as a way to help relieve stress. Taking a short walk, and testing different paces during that walk, can be helpful to ease stress during exam time.

Santos also suggests that reaching out to formal counselling earlier rather than later can be more helpful. Although the stress may not feel as pertinent at the time, booking the appointment in advance is always better than leaving it to the last minute, when her or April Bauman may be booked solid.

All in all, taking some time for yourself during exam time may be more beneficial not only to studying, but also to mental health and stress relief. Proper nutrition, sleep habits, exercise, and a few minutes downtime can be very helpful.

From the Baron, good luck on final assignments and exams.