Website blockers for fast approaching midterm season

As we begin the countdown to midterm season, many students (including me!) may be sharing the sentiment of “so many assignments to do, yet so little time”. Luckily, in today’s technology-minded world, there are many apps to help us be the most productive we’ve ever been! Before we think about how to utilize our phones and computers for productivity, though, it may be a good idea to block off the beast of un-productivity: social media. So, let’s start by talking about website blockers

1. Website blockers (available on various platforms): useful for blocking off social media, online shopping, or any other sites that might be distracting to you:

  • Mac: Cold Turkey, SelfControl
  • Windows: Cold Turkey

These blockers let you block websites of your choice for any amount of time you choose. They’re also very difficult (if not impossible) to circumvent once a block period is begun.

2. Forest (iPhone, Android)

Forest is essentially a timer you can start whenever you need to focus. If the user stays on the Forest app (ie. not use their phone) for the duration of the timer, a virtual “tree” is grown. Using Forest requires a bit more discipline than the website blockers as the user can quit the app at any time, but the virtual tree will die in the process. The neat thing about this app is that virtual “coins” are earned every time a tree is grown, which can then be collected and used in the shop to buy other virtual trees or fund the planting of a real one! You are also able visualize the amount of time spent on Forest.

(Pictured: Forest. Picture Credit: Tools and Toys.)

3. Rescuetime (Mac, Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox)

Rescuetime tracks all the websites you visit and the amount of time spent on each per day. It automatically classifies these websites as being “very productive”, “productive”, “neutral”, or “not productive”, but this can be changed to your liking. From this, it calculates the total time spent on the computer as well as your “productivity pulse”. You’re also able to view your productivity by the hour, day, week, or month! Viewing this data may help you visualize your energy / productivity cycle throughout the day. Also, you can become more aware of the websites that are most distracting to you and block them using website blockers when you’re ready to work!

(Pictured: Rescuetime dashboard. Picture Credit: PCMag.)

4. Slack (web & all platforms) & Tips to avoid being distracted by Facebook

Are you part of an organization, club, or a team of any kind? If so, Slack may be useful for you! Its clutter-free and distraction-free interface allows effective team communication without the need to use distracting social platforms like Facebook. If your team would still prefer to communicate via Facebook but you find the Newsfeed / etc too distracting (like me!), there is an option to deactivate your Facebook account and use the Facebook chat only through! Alternatively, on browsers such as Chrome, extensions (apps) are available to block the Facebook Newsfeed (eg. News Feed Eradicator for Facebook), and instead replace it with an #inspirational quote.

5. Focuslist (iPhone & Mac)

For the more meticulous, you can plan out your entire day on this app, including the exact hours you will allot to finish each task. You can then start the timer to run through your day, which includes proportional break times to the amount of time you spend on work. The planning required in this app can be very helpful for those who need to visualize their day in order to be productive. Like Rescuetime, you can check your productivity by the month, day, or hour, which may help you better understand your energy cycle!

(Pictured: Focuslist. Picture Credits: Focuslist.)

As much as we’d all love to be productive, though, it’s important to give ourselves a break once in awhile. For that, we have websites like and to help us relax or practice mindfulness.

(Pictured: Picture Credits:

**Please note: This is not a paid advertisement – all opinions are my own!

Post Written by: Jennifer. W.


Your Study Soundtrack: UBC Edition

Almost everyone has a favorite study spot. Maybe it’s that cozy corner table at a coffee shop surrounded by the smell of roasting coffee beans and the background chatter of people catching up. Or maybe it’s one of the window seats in the silent Ridington Room of IKB (aka the Harry Potter Room), where large portraits adorn the walls and silence blankets every student.

What’s even more common than having a favorite study spot though? The playlists that gets you through every tough chapter, practice problem set, and endless lecture slides. Music can help improve focus by improving your mood and can help aid endurance during those long days and nights in the library. It can also help with relaxation, and potentially reduce stress or anxiety while studying. Furthermore, music can help to prevent our minds from wandering while allowing us to stay focused on the task at hand!

Scroll a little bit farther down and you’ll find links and descriptions to a set of playlists created specifically for UBC students, combining certain study or relaxation spots on campus (maybe one that you already frequent) with music that matches the character of each location.

Study I – Great Dane:

Whatever your favorite coffee shop is at UBC (JJ Bean? Great Dane? Uppercase? Bean Around the World?), here are some acoustic/singer-songwriter/soft indie music for studying to go along with that extra-large cup of coffee.

Study II – The Chan Centre:

This playlist contains classical music, instrumental pieces, and orchestral scores from movie soundtracks. On another note, if you ever have a chance to listen to the UBC Symphony Orchestra then you should look up their next concert. Your ears will thank you.

Study III – The Gallery:

Whether you’re taking a break with friends or getting into the 5th hour of studying, the beats from these chill songs are subtle enough to have on in the background without being a distraction. Surprisingly, the Gallery is study and work spot during the day before night rolls around.

Now that you have your studying soundtrack, get back to those books and rock those exams!

Author and Playlist Creator: Nicole Mar




How to balance work and school while practicing time management

The end of November marks the last stretch until the end of first semester (woohoo! Freedom is near!). The end of exams means the start of Winter break, and it’s hard not to daydream about your trip back home or the weekend in Whistler you planned with your friend, but we all know how intense the last few weeks of class followed by dreaded exams feels. Maybe you’re feeling great about wrapping up your courses and tackling those upcoming exams, maybe you feel you need 30 hour days rather than 24 hour ones (we’ve all been there), or maybe you even want a button to pause time so you can just breathe. Either way balancing work and school is a tough task.

We don’t always consider the various aspects of our wellness when we think of balance. In fact, as students, most of the time we are so focused on one task that we don’t take the time we should to ensure the other parts of our wellness are sufficiently met. So here are some tips as to how you can maintain a healthy balance, whatever that may look like to you.

Set personal deadlines for when you ideally want to have tasks done. Physically writing down your due dates can help you to plan your time better as it gives you a visual for what you need to accomplish within a set time frame. Using a calendar or planner, whether you’re an online kind of folk or enjoy using good ol’ pencil and paper, are super helpful for keeping track of your to-do’s and what you want to get done. Pro tip: Setting deadlines for earlier than the actual due date saves stress in the long-run! It gives you time in case something comes up or if you want to spend more time editing and fine-tuning that assignment.

Put your phone away or at least turn it face-down and use that silent button when you are doing work. If you are like me, phones can be a huge distraction when trying to get a not-so-fun assignment done. Something a lot of students find effective is setting an alarm on your phone for a set amount of dedicated study time. For example, if your focus lasts about 20 minutes, set an alarm for that amount of time and don’t touch your phone until the alarm goes off. Then take a 5-10 minute break and try repeating this 3 times before taking a longer study break.

Get to know your energy cycle to see when you are the most productive during the day. This can give you insight as to what time of day you are the most efficient at completing tasks, so you can focus on those not-so-fun assignments during that time. If you want to know more about your energy cycle come down to the Wellness Centre and grab a worksheet so you can see what it looks like!

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, study places and tips!

Written by Claudia and Sarah

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.

I want to Ace those exams

I’ve heard that I need to plan ahead over and over again. And, by my 5th year of undergrad, you might think that I would (or should) have this down to a science.

At times, I still find myself struggling to find balance. Between my late night cramming sessions and overwhelmingly long to-do lists, I sometimes find it hard to believe that I still haven’t discovered the strategy for permanent awesomeness. I used to (and still occasionally) get disappointed with myself for not thinking ahead enough, or being proactive enough, or being efficient enough to maximize every second of my day. Over time though, I have become kinder to myself, and am slowly embracing the imbalances in my life.

It’s okay. It’s okay to feel imbalanced, because the balance between academics, work, extracurricular activities, and everything else that makes up our lives is constantly shifting. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, week to week. And it may always be in flux.

It’s important to forgive yourself for not feeling completely in control because that will help you take care of your self-esteem. Still, it can be useful to have some handy tips and strategies in your back pocket for those out-of-balance moments.

With midterms around the corner, here are some tips that can help you prepare for academic success:

  1.    Plan Ahead: I love lists. It helps me set my intentions for the day, prioritize tasks, and visualize what my day will look like.
  •      Looking ahead to the next week and next month allows you to prepare yourself (mentally and physically) for success. Even if your plans change, it is a great way to prepare for what’s to come.
  1. Be okay with saying no: As a people pleaser, this has been something I struggled with a lot. A friend kindly reminded me that I am not a bad person for caring for me. Though it’s great to give back,
  •      It is okay to say ‘not this time’ to one more event or one more volunteer gig when your academic load gets heavy.
  1. Be realistic: I’m an optimist, and so I have high hopes about how much I can get done in 24 hours. But, when I find myself staring at a half-completed to-do list at the end of the day, I feel stressed and disappointed.
  •      Being realistic about how many tasks you can do in a day can allow you to devote more energy and focus to each task.
  1. Reach out for help: When I’m stressed, I’m usually going at full speed. When friends ask how I am doing, I feel relieved to hear that I am not alone and that there is academic support out there.
  •      By reaching out to peers, academic coaches, T.A’s, and/or professors, you form a secure support network that can empower you to tackle any task.

(Check out some great resources we have at UBC for academic success such as: UBC Learning Commons, Peer Academic Coaches, Live well to learn well, and Access and Diversity)

  1. Get quality sleep, especially before a big exam: Though I am preaching this, I still struggle with it. I hope you will join me in cherishing the value of sleep, and getting more of it.
  •      Seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night leads to a sharper mind and better memory, resulting in academic success!

With assignments, presentations, and midterms just around the corner, I hope these proactive tips can help you achieve every one of your goals. Study well and study hard, and remember that your well being plays a big role in your academic success. Good luck!

What are your favorite strategies for effective studying? Read other student tips and share your thoughts below.

Post written by Alice Guo, Wellness Peer

Stress Less for Exam Success

Hey everyone! With final assignments and papers due, and with exams just around the corner, it is easy to begin experiencing “stress.” I know I am! Ongoing, chronic stress can lead us to feeling overwhelmed or moody, and it can even affect our physical state.

That being said, stress does not always have to mean a bad thing! Stress is defined as a mental state of “high alert” that is turned on to deal with the pressures of unexpected or high demanding events, such as heavy workloads and pressure from deadlines. Stress reaction is meant to turn on to deal with a stressful event and then turn it off when that stressor ends. The problem is that for a lot of us, we forget to turn our stress off, which results in always operating on “high alert”. When we operate with a consistent and chronic stress response, we can begin to see wear and tear of stress on our bodies, and those negative effects we hear about. Thus, how we perceive and manage our stress plays an important role!

Earlier in the year I wrote a blog entitled “stress as a positive.” Generally, moderate levels of stress facilitate performance, which can be summarized by this graph…


Expanding on that idea, the way we perceive stress can not only change our definition of stress, but can actually have beneficial responses to our well-being. Kelly McGonigan presents a very interesting research in her Ted Talks video entitled “How to make stress your friend” (I won’t go into depth on this video, because you should definitely consider watching it yourself). In short, she describes that stress is only harmful to your health when it is perceived to be so. The way we perceive stress affects our unconscious interpretation of the stressor. For instance, we can perceive stress as telling us: “I’m so stressed right now…I’m gonna fail my exam” or  “this is my body’s responding to this exam,  so I will be sure to do what I can to feel prepared!”

The way we perceive stress is directly related to our self-efficacy, or our belief in our abilities. Improving self-efficacy can be achieved through performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences (observing others), verbal persuasion, and by altering  physiological states such as moods or emotions. Two effective means to boost your confidence include (1) positive self-talk and (2) goal setting. Setting attainable and realistic goals can lead to feeling accomplished when the goal is reached!

If you are having trouble with stress or are worried about final exams, UBC does provide several opportunities for students to manage their stress effectively! On the UBC live well learn well website several events are affiliated with the “Stress Less for Exam Success” campaign running from April 7-10. Activities range from Stress Doctors roaming in IKB, to Free Hugs and High Fives Events. The Live Well Learn Well website also cites several strategies that are helpful in managing stress, which includes taking breaks, talking to others, meditation, and breathing procedures.

photo (1)

Finally drop by the Wellness Centre (IKB room 183) during Stress Less to get a Stress Management Kit full of goodies like tea and post-it notes. Our Wellness Peers can also provide you with helpful stress management strategies. We will also have a Stress Ball Making Station where you can make and personalize your very own stress ball while kneading out some stress in the process!

During this exam season, study hard, take quality breaks and consider how you can use stress to your benefit!

Good luck!


ADHD and Academic Success: Tips and Strategies Workshop

ADHD Workshop Web Banner - 2015-01

You can manage ADHD and achieve academic success.

Two-part workshop, free for UBC students

Part one: Thursday, January 29, 2015: 4:15 – 6:00 PM
Part two: Thursday, February 5, 2015: 4:15 – 6:00 PM
Brock Hall, 1874 East Mall | Room 2001
Hosted by Counselling Services and Access and Diversity
Please register for this event

This workshop is designed to help students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and will explore topics like time management, dealing with procrastination, using self-care to stay balanced, and working with your strengths.

The event is free but has limited space so be sure to register early!

How Your Body Posture Can Affect Your Well-being

Sometimes I find myself slouching so hard I’m almost slipping off my chair. Reading, writing and typing for a long time can often be stressful and as students, we spend a lot of time doing this! It is really important that we position our bodies in a way that avoids back, shoulder and neck pain.

Here are a few ways you can take care of your body’s structure and posture while you study:

  • Sitting at an angle of 110-135 degrees has been shown to be optimal for spine comfort
  • Since we aren’t always aware of the angle we’re sitting at (we’re human after all), it is also beneficial to keep changing your posture so you aren’t in one, set position for a very long period of time.
  • Neck rolls can be a great way to unwind the tension build up on your shoulders and lower back.


  • If you have been writing or typing for an extended period, a few wrist exercises can be a satisfying way to release tension build up.

3         2

  • When you aren’t studying, take a few minutes to do a power-pose!


Power-posing: coined by Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy describes a body posture that can develop and positively shape the way you see yourself as well as the way others see you. Consciously changing your posture to be more open and extended can actually change the levels of cortisol and serotonin in your brain, consequently changing the way you feel about yourself! So basically instead of curling yourself into a nutshell, just sit up (or stand) and spread your body as if you were a butterfly for a minute or two, and (trust me I’ve tried it) you will feel like one for sure.

That’s all folks, good luck with midterms and remember to keep smiling!

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”

Calming the Perfect Storm: Stress, Anxiety, & exams!

The Storm is on its way. This storm is called 2012/2013 final exams. You can try to ignore, run and avoid this exam storm, but eventually, you must take on this foe head first.  Here are four things to keep in mind:

Just get started

Do you always find yourself staying up  after midnight cramming for your final exams? The easiest way to avoid this horrible phenomenon is to get started earlier.

You can do this by setting out a study schedule for yourself or by just opening your textbook to the first page of the chapter. By taking the first steps to studying for an exam early, you will be able to motivate yourself to stay on track to cover all the material that will be on the final exam.  This will allow you to reduce your stress and anxiety levels, and likely result in better academic performance on your exams.


Did you know that your brain is more efficient after a good workout?  Physical training improves blood flow to the brain, makes the mind clear, gives intellectual energy and increases the ability to concentrate. By exercising, you will be able to give your brain a well-deserved break while allowing it to rejuvenate itself for your next study period. Exercise is a great way to reduce your stress levels and help you stay calm during the exam period.

30 minutes of Relaxation

It is common to feel anxiety the night before the exam. Tossing and turning while falling asleep can add to the anxiety and lead to further stress and frustration.  To avoid this, try setting aside 30 minutes before going to bed to relax. Listen to calming music, watch a little TV, meditate, or even play Call of Duty: Black Ops if you find that relaxing. The goal is to create a sense of calm before trying to fall asleep.

Remember Your Value as a Person

Many students think getting an A+ on final exams is the goal to work towards, but what’s more important is setting realistic goals for yourself and trying to achieve them.  It’s important to remember that the grade you receive on the final exam has no reflection on your value as a person. Keep this in mind when your stressing and feeling anxious about your exams.

More information and tips about stress and anxiety

Stress busters: Relaxation techniques for busy students

Stress busters: The art of time management

Stress, anxiety, and exams

Fighting Against Fatigue During the Homestretch!

When I had assignments, papers, or midterms in one week, I felt like I was a fish fighting on the shore, and the waves are the upcoming tasks; if I didn’t swim hard enough, I would be beached. Though some of those times I experienced a complete drainage of my energy, and I just couldn’t get enough sleep no matter how long I rested. If you had experienced similar situations, here were some tips that worked for me, and would probably solve your problem as well.

1.) Besides getting a good sleep and taking frequent breaks, you should probably think about if there was something else besides the overloaded work that could possibly contribute to your tiredness? For instance, had you been too busy with your exams that you omitted your regular exercise? I used to think that exercise was an energy consuming activity, though amazingly, every time after I dragged myself out of the house and go for a short jog, I felt a great boost on my energy level. Getting some exercise actually waked up my mind and body, I was always in a lighter mood coming back from exercising. If you really didn’t have time, some simple Yoga at home works well too!

2.) Also, food that you snack on was super important as well. Consuming foods that are processed and carbohydrate-rich such as plain bagels, white bread, and white flour muffins, could make you sleepy afterwards. The reason was that the carbohydrates from these foods create a larger increase in blood sugar levels, and this could trigger your brain to curb its activity. Similarly, consuming a large amount of sugar (sugar glazed donuts, candy, pop..) was also not very wise if you needed to get back to work immediately. Try to avoid foods like those and substitute them with healthier forms of carbohydrate and sugar from fruits and vegetables.

Sticking up with these two tips had benefited me to go through stressful, and energy consuming exam periods, hopefully you would find them helpful too!


Study snack: Honey-glazed Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

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As we finish up the last few weeks of class and head into exam season once again, it is easy to fall into bad eating habits amidst all the madness

Why waste time on food preparation when we have papers to finish and chapters to catch up on, right? But this is the period when your body needs you to take care of it the most.

Fortunately, the Wellness Centre Nutrition Team has a solution for you: study snacks.

Study snacks

Study snacks have so many things going for them, why wouldn’t you love them?

  1. They are delicious. “I don’t like delicious food”, said no one ever.
  2. They don’t take much time away from surfing Reddit and Facebook to prepare.
  3. They help you get in nutrients you otherwise would be lacking in.
  4. They keep your mouth occupied when trying to focus – hey, fewer chewed up pens? We could all use that.
  5. They make you the most popular person at your study group table.

The key is to choose your study snacks wisely. And to help you with that, we have gone the extra mile to provide you with a simple, delicious recipe to try your hands at making!

Honey-glazed Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas


  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey


  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Place the chickpeas in a bowl.
  • Add canola oil, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and honey. Mix.
  • Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Spread chickpeas evenly on parchment paper.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Cool and enjoy.

Take Action Against Distraction

Let’s face it. When there’s studying to done, we might load our notes and slides in one window, but on our web browsers, we’ve also loaded ten tabs dedicated to each of our favorite social networking websites, our inbox, music streaming sites, blogs, online shops, etc. and the list never ends. We live in a world where we are so constantly connected that we find it unbearable to part with all these distractions while we are trying to study or write.  So how do we focus?

One solution is to completely disconnect ourselves
This is probably ideal if you are writing a paper and have an outline or notes ready. Disconnecting the internet on your computer/laptop and turning off WiFi or data off your phone (or even setting it to airplane mode) will allow you to get through the next couple of hours free of online distraction.

Use productivity extensions or apps
Unfortunately, most of us are unable to get through without any connection at all whilst working. We still need to go online to check Vista or Connect, sync our cloud storage, or do research online. Productivity extensions lock us out of distracting websites, while keeping the rest of the web open . Here’s a list of some of the extensions/apps to get you off those addictive sites:

StayFocusd for Chrome
This extension allows you to access your favorite websites… but only for a certain period of time. You can customize the extension to block entire websites or specific links and give yourself a time quota for accessing them each day.

Strict Pomodoro for Chrome
We all like breaks, but sometimes they can get out of control. Strict Pomodoro allows you to set a timer to make you work for 25 minutes, then break for 5 minutes. This one is my personal favorite because it is simple, yet effective.

Concentrate for Macs
This highly customizable app gives you options to blacklist certain websites, apps, and has a variety of interesting ways to alert and push you to stick to your work by using notifications.

Leechblock for Firefox
This extension lets you set up to six sites on a blacklist and gives you options to set up time limits as well as periods of the day in order to keep you distraction free.

What are some other ways you find effective in keeping yourself off social networking and other addictive sites?

Study Smarter

Time sure passed by quickly; summer classes are already approaching us! During this short break between final exams and summer classes, it’s essential to review how to study and prepare for upcoming midterms that will be looming over us in a few weeks time. Remember that besides studying hard, you will also need to study smart.

I used to stress a lot when midterms for summer classes were approaching in such a short period of time. Most often, I would want to relax a little bit beforehand; it was summer, afterall. However, I would unfortunately end up wasting time by procrastinating. This usually resulted in staying up very late to compensate for my loss in time. Evidently, what I got from this was poor efficiency at night, and not enough energy to study the next day.

However, I have come up with three steps that helped me to reduce my stress levels and  achieve a more efficient studying pattern:

1. Face your stress
You are stressed because you have a time constraint, and are now wasting your time worrying and making it worse. What’s not changing is the amount of work that’s sitting there. Start now, and you will have less to deal with in an hour.

2. Make smart selections and smart plans
Make sure that your plans for studying are S.M.A.R.T., by ensuring that they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. It’s useful to know exactly what you should be studying. A smart way of going about this is looking over the learning outcomes for the course, and tailoring your studying style to meet the outcomes. This way, you save time by spearheading exactly what it is that you need to study instead of minor information may not be as useful. Lastly, make sure that you prepare an adequate amount of time to study the material. This way, you are not rushing to ineffectively cram the material into your stressed out mind.

3. Take care of yourself
This is one of the smartest things to do during exam periods. “Take care of yourself” involves making sure that you are eating well and sleeping well. Our brains need proper nutrition to function well and, as you read from my experience, bad sleeps are detrimental towards being able to study efficiently.

Above are the three steps that I found to be super useful. They helped me to adapt a thinking pattern that eased the stress, and I am now able to maximize the productivity in a limited period of time. Hopefully they provide aid during stressful times, and good luck to those taking summer classes!

Brain Foods

Tips for Eating Healthy While Studying

For those of you starting summer school here are some helpful tips for you while studying. Summer school can be stressful with course material being packed into a short amount of time and I have noticed as my stress level increases so does the amount of junk food I eat. This is a typical pattern I experience during stressful times and it is obviously not the best way to keep my brain active and alert. I tackle this problem with the following gradual, but conscious changes:

1)      Snack on Fruit – I tend to always get a craving for chocolate or sugar when I study long hours, but some fruit, or yogurt with honey might also do the trick. Especially good while studying are blueberries. According to The Society of Neuroscience, Blueberries may help “optimize brain function.” If you are still craving chocolate, look at tingkelly’s post on how to maximize the health benefits of chocolate.

2)      Munch on Nuts – Another bad habit that I have when I study, is a need to munch on some sort of salty food. Much healthier than chips, are nuts. I usually go to Costco and buy a large tub of cashew nuts, probably enough to last you 2 months, and for only $10. Nuts are a great snack as they are good for your brain. According to The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, nuts, fruits, and vegetables “may improve immunity, vascular function, and brain performance.” – A great thing while studying.

3)      Drink Water – I usually find that while studying, I am not drinking as much water as I should be. With the weather getting warmer and with the need to be able to perform at your peek, drinking water is essential! According to a a website that provides brain training games, “A lack of water results in cognitive deficits in attention, memory and processing speed.” – So stay hydrated while you study.

Good luck with your studies and remember to eat fruit & nuts, and stay hydrated!!

Fruit in a Blender
Smoothies make an excellent study snack!!



Healthy Minds Tip: Stress Less for Exam Success

Image credit: Student Communications Services

Whether final exams or final papers are looming, the last few weeks of a term can be a stressful period for most of us.  It can be challenging to find a balance between the demands of daily life like grocery shopping or laundry, and the extra commitments around earning those final grades.

Taking time to manage your stress is important, especially during these busier times, so you can reach your academic goals.

When it comes to managing stress, the key is identifying what works for you.For some people, relaxation activities may be the key to relieving tension and stress.  Try a quick meditation exercise, a walk around campus or a drop-in class offered by the UBC Yoga Club.

For others, however, socializing with friends and families may be helpful.  Enjoy a lunch break with a close friend or call a loved one. Regardless of your preference, remember to take time for yourself during the exam period.

If stress is interfering with your academic work, there are plenty of resources to help you through the exam time and the rest of the academic year. The Learning Commons, for example, offers a number of academic support services like exam prep and time management toolkits.  Peer Academic Coaches are also available to help you develop a plan to tackle the exam period.

If  internet or gaming is preventing you from performing at your best, check out this quick self-assessment provided by SFU.

Finally, Live Well, Learn Well has articles to get you motivated to have your best exam season ever.

Stress Less for Exam Success fair – Join us on April 4!

On Wednesday, April 4, you are also invited to drop by the second annual Stress Less for Exam Success in the Chapman Learning Commons and Centre for Student Involvement.
This year’s event will feature activities to both relax and energize you. A number of fun activities are planned for the day including a free and healthy breakfast, nutritious snacks, games, and animal visits.

Productive Procrastination

While in the middle of midterm mayhem, furiously studying definitely takes up a major portion of my free time. In all honesty, taking breaks from studying takes up a major portion of that time I dedicate to hitting the books. Procrastination is an important part of university life – it’s what separates us from our computers and calculators. However, there is a difference between wasting my time drooling over Facebook or Twitter and something that I like to call “productive procrastination.” Contrary to popular belief, there are slightly more justifiable ways to avoid academia while still being a proactive contributor to society. Productive procrastination helps me take guilt-free breaks from my studying.

Some activities that I have found work best include:

  • Updating an outdated resume: Why write that essay when I could write something that will earn me cash?
  • Start a daily journal: Writing about my day always clears my mind, making studying and homework a much easier process.
  • Plan a Go Global exchange: Nothing helps me procrastinate like picturing a semester abroad. Presently, I am aiming for Iceland!
  • Practice music or investigate learning a new instrument: Living on Res, I find it hard to keep up on my drumming. There are music practice rooms on campus; take advantage!

Some other awesome ideas could include:

  • Applying for a super interesting summer internship – check out msmith’s post Summer Job Hunt.
  • Reading a classic novel on your list (or a new hit) that isn’t a course requirement.
  • Exercising (outdoors, if possible).
  • Emailing your family or an old friend.
  • Memorizing the lyrics to a favourite song just by singing along.
  • Washing your sheets!
  • Drawing, even if you’re terrible at it like me.
  • Writing poetry (Haiku counts too).
  • Exploring a new building on campus.
  • Organizing your calendar for next month.
  • Volunteering on campus or in the city.

For those of you who, like me, still struggle with subconsciously opening a Facebook or Twitter tab while doing course work, check out SelfControl for Mac and SelfRestraint for PC, two GPA-saving applications that can block social media access for predetermined periods of time.

If you still struggle with internet addiction, check out this article: Switching off: Rebooting away from the computer.


Take Breaks, Improve Your Focus

We all at some point believed that the golden standard to a good grades is to work hard, and work harder. However, taking some time to relax does have positive benefits to your general well being and academic performance.

Have you ever had the experience of sitting for hours and having very little work done? Or reading on the same page forever with no information coming in? One of the reasons that these are happening is that you probably are in a fatigue mode for studying, with little recreation.
Here are some ideas for you to have a general self-check:

  • Have you been abandoning your hobbies that you really enjoy?
  • Have you been refusing to go out due to academic stress?

If you find out you are likely leaning too much on the academic side of the scale, here are some easy ways to take a break, have fun, or relax, to replenish your energy. Simply get out of the house and take a good walk; trees and sunshine will do the job. Arrange weekly outings with your friends and family. Set fixed time slots into your weekly schedule to pursue to your hobbies. Engage with on campus organizations and activities that interest you.

Lastly, remember the key word in personal wellbeing is balance. Play keeps you enthusiastic and makes studying refreshing; while sufficient effort is still necessary to effectively pursue your study. Good luck!

It’s Paper Season!

Welcome to November. It’s paper season and do you know what that means? Sleep and nutrition go out the door. Well, normally. But what if this year it doesn’t? What if this year, while you’re writing the best papers of your academic career, you could also be well rested and well fed?

Well, it’s at least worth a shot.

So what’s the game plan? How about, get started early? Plan ahead. When your professor assigns you a paper topic, get started. You don’t need to write the whole paper, but how about doing a bit of reading, research, or brainstorming so that you start to get on the right track. Jot down some
notes, mull over some thoughts and you’ll have a thesis in no time. Then leave it until the next day. You have time to put it aside because (gasp!) you started early.

And since you’ve been so organized and have the time to putyour paper aside, how about a meal? And by meal, I don’t mean any variety of “Mc-Meal”. I mean, how about heading to your fridge and making something home-made? Or if you’re on campus, how about going to the Delly in the SUB, or heading over to Save-On Foods for something healthy to keep you feeling good?

Remember- you have the time, because you got started early!

Keep coming back to your paper, a little at a time. Aim to have each one done a day or two before the due date. This way, if something goes wrong and you find you hate part of your paper, or wrote “goo” instead of “good”, it won’t be 30 minutes before class, it will be 2 days before class and you’ll have lots of time to make adjustments.

Not only is this effective for writing a good paper, and having time to eat healthy, this also means you have time for a full night’s sleep because you aren’t spending the night before each deadline spitting out a lesser-quality piece of work. Let’s face it, at 4 A.M. even basic grammar (and basic English) have abandoned you. Why? Because they’ve gone to sleep, just like you should have too. Pulling an “all-nighter” isn’t going to produce a quality paper, and it isn’t going to make you well-rested. So how about this November, when you know you’re going to be up to  your eyeballs in papers, how about you get cracking early so you don’t let your physical wellness fall by the wayside? So while you watch the people around you panic-writing papers 12 hours before they are due, you can smile and appreciate the fact that you planned ahead, and while they will be up all night, and eating whatever they can find quickest, you’ll be eating a well-balanced meal and getting an appropriate amount of sleep!


To LSAT or to Not?

So, you want to write the LSAT?
It’s daunting, I know. Having just written the LSAT this past weekend, here’s my advice;
1) If you do not have a sound reason for applying to law school, don’t waste your time (and money) writing the LSAT. Law school shouldn’t be a fall-back plan if you don’t know what else to do. It is a big commitment and you should understand that fully before you continue.

2) PREPARE. Don’t go into the exam without having thoroughly reviewed for it. Prep courses are one way to go, but if you don’t have several hundred extra dollars floating around then find some good books (LSAT Logic Games Bible is a staple) or download some .pdf’s online. You don’t want to be the person that leaves at the break because they didn’t take the exam seriously.

3) Write practice exams! Find somewhere quiet and, using your analogue watch, write the exam under the appropriate time constraints. Again, these can be purchased or found in .pdf form online.

4) Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam. Learn about the “experimental section” and understand what the written section is all about. Learn what you are allowed to bring into your exam (analogue watch, water) and what you’re not allowed to bring (cell phone, purse).

5) Create a study schedule. Decide what you’re going to study and when. Then stick with it. It is easy to put it off, but in the end hard work will really pay off.

Most importantly, be committed, stay calm and do the best you can.
Happy LSATing!