3 Easy and Alternative Ways to Manage Stress

With midterms and papers right around the corner, you’re probably starting to feel the pressure that comes with mid-semester madness. Although sleeping well, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet are all very important to the management of stress, it can also be beneficial to explore other options to see what combination works for you!

Below are some tried-and-true strategies that just might help you take the edge off:

Make Your Home a Stress-Free Sanctuary. Taking action to create a safe, comfortable home – whether this means keeping your place tidy, reducing clutter, filling your room with flowers and/or succulents, or simply lighting a few candles – can make all the difference in combatting stress, especially after a long day of studying.

Essential Oils. Aromatherapy is thought to reduce stress by acting on our limbic system. Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the aroma compounds of plants. These oils can either be rubbed directly on the skin, burned using an oil burner, or diffused into the air by nebulizers (my personal favourite). Health food stores are my go-to for all things scent-related.

Favourite Oil blend: Stress Release – a blend of Lavender, Chamomile, and Orange

Favourite Oil blend: Quiet – a blend of Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Amyris, and Clary Sage

Sub Coffee for Matcha Green Tea. Let’s face it, we all need our fair share of caffeine to get us through exams. However, coffee can actually increase stress and irritability as well as cause the inevitable ‘coffee crash’ often leaving people very tired and unable to concentrate. Although matcha green tea may contain as much caffeine as coffee, it is an alternative due to its large concentration of L-Theanine which induces an alert yet calm state of mind.

Remember, not everything that works for me will work for you and vice versa. Spend some time exploring stress-relieving strategies now so that you are better equipped to deal with stress when it hits. Happy studying!

Post Written by Molly S.

Study Tips to help you achieve a top grade

At university, we are taught all sorts of subjects. From cell biology to creative writing, we are expected to master it all. Yet, we are not taught how to study. That, we have to figure out on our own. Some students cram the entire course into their heads the night before the midterm, some highlight and reread their notes weeks before the exam, and some students prefer to only do practice problems… the different styles are endless.

None of study styles are bad, but turns out, some are more productive than others.

Decades of research into learning and memorization has taught us that the following study methods promote much better long-term retention than simply rereading, rewriting and highlighting notes.

Retrieval practice: a fancy term for “quiz yourself!”

Once you’ve learned a piece of information, every time you recall that memory, you strengthen it. Instead of writing notes for the second time, use that time to write your own questions and test yourself. Not only would you strengthen what you already know, you would also easily identify what areas you’re unsure of.

Elaborative rehearsal: link new information to things you already know

Instead of compartmentalizing new information into separate neat little boxes in your brain, try to connect that information to the rich web of knowledge that you already possess. As you’re learning the concept, try to deliberately create logical and intuitive associations with existing knowledge. Simple ways to do this are to use your own words to rephrase definitions, and relating new information to things you’re already familiar with from previous courses.

Dual coding: create both a visual and a verbal memory for the same information.

Once the information is associated with two senses instead of one, retrieval becomes much easier. Try to translate a written passage from the textbook into a drawing or flow chart. Instead of studying in silence, try explaining the concepts out loud, even if it’s just to yourself.

Distributed effort: spread it out, don’t cram

It may be difficult to not cram a subject the night before the test when students have extracurricular, part-time jobs and a social life to attend to, but distributing your studying really works! Say you’re going to spend 10 hours studying a particular topic, from 10pm to 8am, rather than drinking an insane amount of caffeine and powering through one night of hell, it is far more effective to spend that time as five 2-hour sessions over the course of a few days.

Sleep effect: review information you’re trying to memorize right before you go to sleep.

When you are sleeping, your brain recuperates and reorganizes information gathered during the day. Deep sleep is very important in memory consolidation. This is why it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes reviewing a chart or going through some flashcards right before bed. For best effects, try to test yourself shortly after you wake up.

These are the study tips that will help you achieve your learning goals according to science. Good luck! (Oh wait, you won’t need any once you follow these tips!) *wink*

Source Materials:



Written by: Mai H. and J.S.

How to improve your sleep

As university students with endless assignments and exams, it may be difficult to make our sleep a priority. But getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important for our learning, memory consolidation, focus, and overall wellbeing. 7-9 hours of sleep is suggested for adults for optimal energy and performance throughout the day, but this number can be different for many people. Here are some scientifically proven tips to help you get a better night’s sleep!

During the Day

Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. You’ll find it easier to fall asleep and get deeper, better quality sleep.

Taking a nap during the day can be a great way to catch up on sleep. If you are going to take a nap, try to take it earlier in the day (around mid-afternoon) to avoid having difficulty sleeping at night. When we sleep, we cycle through 90 minute sleep periods. The best length for a nap is either 30 minutes, right before you enter deeper sleep, or 90 minutes, at the completion of your sleep period.

Setting up your Sleep Environment

Make your room as dark as possible. That includes the light from your laptop charger or any other electronic devices, or any other distractions that can light up throughout the night and disrupt your sleep. The best environment for good quality sleep is in pitch darkness, so it might be a good idea to invest in blackout curtains.

Keep your room at a cool temperature for optimal sleep.

Before You Sleep

Try to turn off your devices, including your phone and laptop, 30 minutes to an hour before you get into bed. Melatonin, a mildly sleep producing hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, aids you to fall asleep faster but decreases when you are exposed to light. Your screens emit blue light, which causes us to be alert and decreases our melatonin production. If you must use your electronics before bed for any reason, you can download apps that can change the display of your screen to a less harsh colour at night (I use one called Flux).

Allow yourself adequate time to unwind before you go to bed. Having a regular bedtime routine every night will signal your brain that you are preparing to go to bed. You can read, meditate, do yoga, listen to music, or do anything that will calm your mind before you drift off to sleep.

Elevating your body temperature before bed and then letting it cool down can result in deeper, better quality sleep. You can do this by taking a hot shower or drinking tea and then going to sleep in a cooler environment.

If you find yourself worrying or having anxious thoughts while you are trying to  fall asleep, write in a journal before going to bed. Write down anything you are concerned about and give yourself the permission to let any tasks or thoughts wait until the next day.

During your Sleep

If you are lying in bed for 20 minutes and you are still unable to fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel like you are ready to try to sleep again.

For Long Term

If possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, including on weekends. Having a consistent schedule regulates your circadian rhythm and your body will slowly become adjusted to it, making it easier to get up Monday morning.

Being a university student doesn’t mean that we need to compromise our sleep and our well-being to succeed. Rather, it challenges us to find a balance in our busy lives between doing well in school while also getting the optimal sleep that we need to function best.

Visit https://students.ubc.ca/health-wellness/self-help/sleep to learn more about sleep! If you are still having trouble sleeping, visit your doctor to find out more information specific to your needs.

Sleep well!


Post Written By: Lauren L.

Images from CC

Preparing for Midterms and Weekly Assignments

Yes, it’s that time of year again where midterms and assignments are due every week, and life starts to become overwhelming. But at this time of year, it’s also important for you to manage your own health and wellness before it gets to that point. Here are some of my wellness tips to get through the rest of the school season:

Take care of the basics:

Focus on getting enough sleep – Sleep is critical to keep you rejuvenated day after day. It is also a critical component of remembering your school material.

Eat healthy! – Yes, it is difficult to eat healthy, especially when you’re stressed out about exams and need to eat something that’s the quickest to stuff your face in (trust me. Been there, done that). But if you have the time to cook, that’s also a great way to unwind as well. If you need to whip up something quick and budget friendly, check out these links:

BudgetBytes: A website full of recipes that are broken down to its cost/recipe and cost/serving, allowing you to keep your stomach and your wallet full.

Cookspiration: An interactive app created by the Dietitians of Canada that presents you with recipes to meet your mood and schedule.

Exercise – Yes, something most of us may neglect. But taking even 15 minutes out of your day to go for a walk or run gets those endorphins pumping and allows you to focus better on your school work.

Also, make time to unwind. A lot of us slip into intense study sessions when there’s an upcoming midterm, but reality of it is, is that if you’re going too intensely at a study session, it’s not helping you retain your memory! Here are a few tips to unwind while you’re having a study session:

  • Listen to music you enjoy
  • Go for a small walk – even if it’s around your residence area or home
  • Do things as it feels okay – feel empowered to say “no” if you feel like you’re taking on too much. It’s easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of life, but remember to say no when it’s necessary when it gets too much.
  • Check in with your family or friends – it’s important to check in with yourself, but also let your friends or family know if there is something they can do for you

If you prefer to attend a workshop from UBC professional staff about how to manage your wellness, click here to register for upcoming sessions!

Keep a look out for part 2 of this post: Study Tips to help you achieve a top grade!

Post written by: Mai H. and J.S.

Images from CC

Week 1 of Live Well Challenges: Sleeping Well

“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” 

Title credit: Robert Frost

It is the first week of the Live Well Challenge! This week, the Wellness Peers will be exploring the topic of sleep and how that affects their well-being, both physical and mental. To meet the peers taking part in the Live Well Challenge this week, visit our ‘Bloggers page. To learn more about the Live Well Challenge, feel free read our introduction post!


Have you ever felt like you are living in a different time zone from your friend, even though in reality you live only 20 minutes away from each other? I know I have. A text message I send at 10:00 am in the morning can be seen several hours later, when a friend finally wakes up at 2:00 in the afternoon. Or vice versa. What I like to call ‘student zones’ only go to show the wide spectrum of sleeping habits, ranging from number of hours slept to the time of day students are active. Often, a ‘student zone’ or the number of hours slept will depend on the various commitments in a student’s life, from academics to work or other extracurricular activities.

Every year without fail I find myself slowly becoming bogged down by essays, midterms, and interpersonal commitments, especially as the term settles in and the first biting edge of autumn hits campus. Never do I feel more like Cinderella, (if Cinderella had digital technology and was worried about assignments instead of attending a ball), constantly glancing down at that little clock on the bottom of my screen, noticing suddenly how fast seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours.

In times like these I know that I often become…somewhat neglectful of sleep. While I am less likely to pull all-nighters now than I was in first year (did I ever take advantage of IKBLC’s 24/7 opening hours during exam seasons), I do occasionally find myself blinking bleary at a computer screen at 3:00am while trying to finish up citations, half aware of my 7:00am alarm for class. I will be the first to admit that I do not feel my best the following day – more irritable, less focused, less productive.

A lack of sleep can have a significant impact on my health, brain function, and ability to learn and process of information during the day. Yet, it can be so easy to ignore this small but vital action we can take to improve our personal wellbeing.

Therefore this year for the Live Well to Learn Well Challenge, I am going  to listen to my body and take the time to reduce fatigue and irritability in one simple way, by sleeping. My challenge for myself and for everyone on campus this week is to take one day of the week and let your body and not your calendar dictate your sleep.

In the evening, I will head to bed when I feel myself getting sleepy and wake up only when my body is ready to. No alarms, no wake up calls, (no asking my brother to throw something heavy at my sleeping form), just letting my internal clock take over. While experts say we cannot ‘catch up’ on lost sleep, it will certainly be interesting to see how my mind and body respond the following day. It can be a great chance for everyone to learn more about their unique sleeping needs and how it can positively (or negatively) impact their mental and physical wellbeing.

Throughout the week, we encourage everyone to join us in the challenge by posting your progress on social media using the #ubcpeerperspective hashtag. On Friday, the Wellness Peers will be reflecting and posting their experiences with the challenge, so feel free to revisit Healthy Minds later this week to see what fellow UBC students had to say on this challenge.

Good luck everyone and happy sleeping!


To learn more about the benefits of sleep and get tips on how to improve your sleep quality, visit the Live Well to Learn Well webpage on sleep or read about other students’ sleeping experiences on the Healthy Minds Blog.

If you feel like you are constantly feeling fatigued or having sleep difficulties, consider speaking with a health professional such as a counsellor or a doctor. Getting help earlier before letting your difficulties overwhelm you can help you feel better sooner and avoid long term stress.

Post Written by Kleo Fang

All-nighters: The Least Unhealthy Way

Get 8 hours of sleep every night. That’s what our mothers and doctors have been telling us since we were young. It’s one of the most important things we can do if we want to ace every course we take. It’s part and parcel of the life of an ideal student. But of course, none of us can be the ideal student 100% of the time, not without sacrificing some other important aspect of our lives. Continue reading “All-nighters: The Least Unhealthy Way”

How to Become A Morning Person

Maldita la hora, Flickr

We’ve all been there before. You’ve tried leaving that party a couple hours earlier, you’ve set an alarm to tell yourself to go to sleep, but somehow SOMETHING always gets in the way. For example, some nights (most nights in my case), checking a few notifications on Facebook becomes a 5 hour long episode of watching every Vine video on my news feed, liking photos, and clicking the link on the sidebar for $39.95 shoes when the last thing I need is more shoes. The next thing I know, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. During the summer break, it’s so easy to get into the habit of sleeping later and waking up even later. But as the saying goes, if you hoot with the owls at night, you can’t soar with the eagles in the morning. If you’re tired of being nocturnal and you want to seize the daylight hours while summer lasts, try changing what you do before and after you sleep to become a morning person. Here’s to learning to love that alarm clock!
Continue reading “How to Become A Morning Person”

Dealing with Insomnia

Insomnia is something everyone deals with at some point in their life. From trying to regain your school sleep schedule to dealing with the stresses of midterms and finals, insomnia is not something people want to be dealing with. For some people, it’s a day but for others, it can be a lifetime struggle.

Insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time. 

You may be experiencing insomnia for a number of reasons:

  • Stress
  • Feelings of anxiety or worry
  • Depression
  • Sleep Environment
  • Recent Traumatic Event

I have developed a few techniques to aid in getting a good night’s sleep.

Shutting off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. This may seem inconvenient, especially for a busy student, but to help your brain and body to calm down, you should remove yourself from any screens and try reading for 30 minutes before bed instead of catching up on your TV.

Avoid naps! Although this might be something that is nearly impossible for some people, if you are able to avoid napping during the day, falling asleep at night will be less of a hassle. If you do need to nap, do so for only 20 minutes.

Melatonin. This is somewhat of a quick fix, but you can pick up melatonin at your drug store. Melatonin is produced naturally in your body, and helps induce sleep. Taking it as a supplement can help if you have suddenly altered your sleep schedule and need to balance it again. However, melatonin should not be taken every night and if your insomnia continues, see a doctor.

A few more quick tips

  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Sleep and wake up at the same time everyday.

However, some of your reasons for having insomnia might not be so easily cured (e.g. depression or anxiety), and if your insomnia persists it may be beneficial to speak to a doctor.

Feel free to comment with your tips on how to fight insomnia!

Sleep and Academics!


Did you know that sleep difficulties are among the top health issues impacting UBC students’ academic performance?  Perhaps this isn’t too surprising, as students often skimp on sleep to meet deadlines, cram for exams and pursue other facets of the “student life”.

However, getting enough sleep and quality sleep are crucial in helping you perform your best. Without a good night’s rest, you run the risk of performing poorly on exams, feeling anxious or sad or worried, and lowering your immune response which leaves you prone to illness. On the other hand, getting enough quality sleep will improve your ability to remember and retain new information. Sleeping the whole night improves your ability to learn; reason enough for students to prioritize quality sleep!


Here are some proven ways to improve your sleep habits:

  • Get up at the same time each morning. This includes weekends whenever possible. This practice will ensure your “internal clock” keeps you on schedule for sleep and wake times. Do not oversleep.
  • Avoid naps. You sleep better at night if you avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid caffeine, tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol before bed. These drugs will keep you from falling asleep and staying asleep. Avoid these at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Go to sleep when you feel sleepy. If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of hitting the pillow, get up and do something until you feel sleepy. If you force yourself to sleep you’ll inevitably feel frustrated making sleep more difficult.
  • Keep your bedroom a sleep (and/or sex) sanctuary. Put your computer, TV, phone in another room and keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark. Do your homework elsewhere and save your bedroom space for only the most relaxing activities.
  • Exercise. Doing physical activity of some kind three hours before bed can promote better sleep. Try to fit in a good workout after school or work and use the rest of the evening to unwind.

For more articles on sleep visit Live Well Learn Well:

Is lack of sleep affecting your GPA?

Fatigued? How to get more energy


Thinking Positively Before Bed

Written By: Leslie Whittaker

We all know that sleep is important and has a significant impact on our waking lives.  Without it we have trouble concentrating, and can suffer impaired memory and mood swings.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to get to sleep because of anxiety about school, work, or emotional stress.  So, bring on the positive thinking!  Each night before you go to sleep, take a moment to think of and write down five positive things that happened to you or that you did over the day.  Positive thinking before bedtime is doubly advantageous: it decreases cortisol and increases serotonin which relieves stress and anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep AND it improves your outlook in the morning, which, among a handful of other benefits, improves cognitive functioning.1  Furthermore, writing things down is more effective and clarifying than simply thinking of them.2 |

While goal-setting and critical self-reflection are important, we should have gratitude for the present as well as a drive towards a successful future.  A warm smile from a stranger, those two very productive hours of studying, those delicious blueberry muffins you made, that swim you went for, a insightful discussion over coffee, or that new song you learned on the ukulele are all worth noting.  If it had a positive effect on you, write it down.

And the nights you don’t feel like doing it?  They are the most important.  You’ll be surprised how much better you feel after you list five positive things that happened to you – and believe me, there are always at least five.

The final benefit of this exercise?  On a down day, you can look back on your ‘Positive Journal’ and be reminded of all the wonderful things that happen to you.  Start tonight!


1“Happy Brain, Happy Life”

2“The Health Benefits of Journaling

“Sleep Inspires Insight” (accessible through UBC Library)