Forget the holidays!

Forget the holidays!
November is the busiest season for students

by Laura Beaulne-Stuebing, November 8, 2007

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ?

The weather is getting colder, the days longer. You can feel it in the air. No, it’s not the holiday season (at least not the one you’re thinking of). It’s November. It’s mid-term and essay time for university students.

I’m stressed. Certainly, I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed. I had an essay due this week; I have two due next week, as well as a test. And the following week? Two tests, one essay, a tutorial presentation, and a report. And that’s just school. What about real life?

‘Tis the season.

We students need to de-stress. Of course, we need to get work done, but also need ways to get out of our heads, clear out the cobwebs, and let our tired brains sigh with relief. Otherwise, our minds will simply stop working for us.

I’ve found that a few things work for me. One, yoga. It’s centering, calming, even distracting. Fortunately, there’s a great yoga studio about four blocks from my house. And, of course, I can always practice at home. Two, socialization. It sounds simple enough, but being able to converse with real people, and not just with my computer screen, the authors of textbooks, or librarians (however lovely and helpful they may be), is a de-stresser. Connecting with others really does help. Three, mindless or mindful television (either works for me). It could be a favourite episode of Gilmore Girls or tonight’s broadcast of The National with Peter Mansbridge – something that takes my thoughts away from essays and studying.

And four, nature. This is probably the simplest solution of all. Last week, after a heavy lecture in my Political Theory class, I decided to walk home from campus. It was a crisp, sunny autumn day – and I didn’t want to waste its beauty. I strolled along the Thames River (yes, London, Ontario has a Thames) – trees with red and orange leaves, people walking their dogs, the river sparkling in the mid-day sun, ducks… wildlife. I find that this, the natural world, is the ultimate escape, the ultimate de-stresser.

Nature is almost a religious experience for me. Standing in the warm sunlight on the bank of a river… it’s spiritual and quieting. It takes my hectic thoughts and calms them. I can put those thoughts aside – just for a while – and simply be in the moment. It’s my form of meditation.

But unfortunately, I can’t stay in the sunlight on the bank of the Thames forever. The sun would eventually set, the day turning into night, and I would be left chilled by the water (and with my luck, it would probably end up snowing). I have to return to the “real” world of university education. So, I go back to my computer – but first I put on a pot of tea and wrap a blanket around myself – and settle down for a long winter’s nap, I mean, a long night of studying.

Sigh…

Remember, the worst of it will be over by the end of November. Then it’ll be time for silver bells and shortbread cookies. Candy canes and twinkling lights…

Another stressful season?

Laura is a university student in London, Ontario.

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