Confession: I’m not perfect (I know, right? Most shocking revelation of 2012). Although I blog a lot about how important it is to take care of yourself, to eat right and exercise, and to find balance in university, I don’t always follow my own advice. The days leading up to my first exam, the dreaded CHEM 233 final, were super unhealthy and stress-filled. I was subsisting off of caffeine and UBC Food Services baked goods (the banana chocolate chunk muffins are a particular favourite of mine), spending every spare second thinking about chemical mechanisms, and even dreaming about carbohydrate cyclization. For five days straight I would get to the library every morning at 8:30 and leave when it closed at 10, taking breaks only to fill up my water bottle or to grab a massive coffee from the SUB.
On the morning of the exam, I woke up ready to log a few more hours of studying before my 3:30 timeslot. But after going over a couple of practice finals, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was physically and mentally exhausted. The chemical structures were starting to look like hieroglyphs, and my brain felt like the melted Stay-Puffed marshmallow man at the end of Ghostbusters 2. It was bad.
So with a mere couple of hours left before my exam, I threw on some Lululemon shorts, lugged my iHome speakers over to the Totem commonsblock, and turned the ballroom into my own personal dance studio. It was just the release I needed. Instead of agonizing over the steps of imine formation or trying to decide what reagent is required to convert an aldehyde to a carboxylic acid, I just needed to count to eight and try to nail a few fouettes. It reminded me of how thankful I used to be during high school finals when I had no classes but still had to go to dance every night. Dance has always been my stress release, and I miss being able to do it every day. After an hour of jumping, turning, and receiving a few weird looks through the ballroom windows, I changed into my exam attire, went to the SRC with my mind cleared of all stressors, and might have written the best final exam of my university career.
Find that thing that keeps you sane during finals season and do it often. Whether it’s running the Wreck Beach stairs, watching a movie with your floormates or hammering on the drums (like my girl Nirel), make sure your life doesn’t revolve around your schoolwork. It’s a stressful time, for sure, but taking an hour off won’t kill you. Just the opposite, in fact.