This is a stressful time of year for many students, and finding a balance between studying and self-care will go some way towards easing your worries. However, if you need help to cope with the stress, it is available in the form of 24/7 phone counselling and at the various walk-in centres on campus.
When it comes to managing your stress, start by putting a study plan in place and try to stick to your timetable. Remember though that your studying will be less effective if you are exhausted and run-down. Sleep, exercise and nutrition top the list when it comes to taking care of yourself and ensuring that you are able to focus and concentrate.
Get enough sleep – seven to eight hours is advisable – in the weeks leading up to exams, as well as the night before an exam, to ensure that you are well rested. Sleep aids memory and improves the ability of your cognitive senses to function efficiently.
Regular exercise is also a good way to keep your brain sharp and help you feel more energised and less stressed. It doesnʼt have to be anything hectic; a walk around the block or from upper to middle campus instead of taking the Jammie shuttle should do the trick.
Eating healthy food also helps with alertness and focus. Sugary snacks and drinks may provide a quick boost but are inevitably followed by an energy slump, so theyʼre not a good idea. And avoid the temptation to drink too much alcohol or take drugs. If you need support in this regard, the Student Wellness Services (SWS) will be able to refer you to a group that suits your needs.
Don’t wait if you feel you have a cold or other illness coming on. Consult a nurse at the SWS clinic, or visit one of the walk-in service points, and get the medication you need. After all, the sooner you treat the mild symptoms, the faster you will recover.
Likewise, if you notice a friend or classmate battling to cope or who is ill, encourage them to go to a doctor, the SWS clinic or one of the walk-in service points, or accompany them if necessary.
If you’re on medication for any condition, don’t stop taking it. Speak to your doctor if you are worried about side effects, such as drowsiness, but it is recommended that you continue with your treatment.
Too much stress
It’s normal to have a certain level of stress during exam time. Sometimes though, it can all feel a bit overwhelming and may affect your studies. That’s when you should seek professional help.
If you have financial concerns, ask for advice from the Finance office. If family life and pressures are worrying you, get help from the SWS social worker or counsellors to help you through your situation.
“If you feel depressed or anxious and constantly worried about everything in exams and beyond, my advice is to talk to somebody, do it quickly and get help,” says Dr Memory Muturiki, the director of the UCT Student Wellness Service.
“Even if you don’t think it’s serious, itʼs worth talking to someone.”
Ways to get help
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