AS stress levels rise, so do the number of students turning to counsellors for help in the demanding final weeks of semester. Alyce Shaw speaks to RMIT student counsellor Lindon Medina.
It’s the time of the year when students find themselves bogged down by multiple assignments, group projects and feverish preparations for upcoming exams, and the stress that comes with needing to do it all.
RMIT student counsellor Lindon Medina, has noticed a peak in students coming to his office in the demanding final weeks of a semester.
“There are a lot of additional stresses which can overwhelm their work capabilities,” he says.
Mr Medina says it’s crucial students understand their physical health also contributes to their mental wellbeing.
“Students need to make sure they are looking after themselves, getting nourishment from the right food and getting enough sleep,” he says.
“Listen to some meditation music or relaxation podcasts. They have some exercises on how to relax, take your mind off the exams and remove the tension from your body.”
A change in mindset can also help students cope better with stress, such as fixating more on the subject matter and learning outcomes, and less on marks.
“Try some relaxation and breathing exercises, and think positively. They (students) can try to focus on the actual topic they are studying for, rather than whether or not they’ll pass the exam,” Mr Medina says.
For students struggling to stay afloat, Mr Medina has some handy tips:
Take some time out
A five to ten minute breather can be the difference between a successful revising session, and a giant headache.
“Take frequent breaks every hour or so to get yourself out of your chair,” Mr Medina says.
Go for a short walk outside for some fresh air, or do some light stretches, anything to get you away from the computer.
Break it down
Split your workload up into little tasks; things to do hour by hour. If you are studying for multiple subjects, switch up your revision so you aren’t studying the same thing all day.
Avoid caffeinated drinks
It’s tempting to order that extra large coffee or energy drink to get you through a stint of studying, but it can be a bad idea.
“It could be detrimental for the next day,” Mr Medina says.
“You’ll still be tired, and if it’s the night before your exam it can affect your concentration and your memory.”
Keep your water intake up, and if you feel like you need a boost, opt for a green or black tea instead – both are full of antioxidants, with a small caffeine hit to get you through.
Unwind with some help
Music is a great way to switch off and relax. Play some soothing music to give your mind a moment of calm. If you need some help getting into the zone, the RMIT student services page offers a range of podcasts for relaxation, stress management, and mindfulness.
Talk to someone
And finally, if the stress is taking it’s toll and you feel ready to give up, do like what many other students have done, and make an appointment with your student counsellor. They can talk to you one-on-one about any anxieties you are having, and help you work it out.