Preparation for Final Exams!

Just the thought of studying for finals at this point can be daunting. It can be one of the most stressful times of the year, and it can really take a toll on your mind and body. What can we do to prepare ourselves for the next few weeks of stress and studying? Here, we’ll be discussing methods of reducing the amount of stress that can accumulate over the finals season using both preventative measures as well as stress management strategies.

The article is broken up into three parts including steps in preparation before exam week, tips on studying as well as strategies for stress management. To start off, we’ll talk about the preparation needed before studying. Even though the exam season has not started yet, you may want to be proactive and plan ahead by doing some of the following:

1. Master to-do list

Writing out all the things you need to do during the final season may be very intimidating. However, it can help you plan your time accordingly! Be sure to consider your schedule (check your SSC!), your priorities (e.g. how much is each exam worth?), and the difficulty of the subjects (e.g. how confident are you with the material?). Also, consider how you want to study for each subject. It may be helpful to keep the format of the exam in mind, and tailor your exam strategies towards it. If it is heavily concept-based, a mind-map or diagram may be more helpful. If it is a multiple-choice exam, cue cards may be your friends.

2. Plan the hours

Schedule the actions on the to-do list with estimations of how much time you will need for each assignment. Keeping a schedule can help you keep on track and motivate you on days where it may be hard to get started. Try to give yourself extra time for wiggle room for unexpected events, and be honest with how much time you will need for each assignment. Also, don’t forget that you have to take breaks as well!

As we move into the weeks of the final, you can start implementing your plan studying. The key to success lies in efficient studying. However, efficiency can be difficult to achieve as it often involves you knowing how, where, when and with whom you study best.

3. Remember to study smart

The most important thing to highlight here is the difference between active and passive learning. Some people learn best by creating diagrams. Others learn best by explaining the material to others. What they all have in common though, is they all involve you actively thinking about the concepts. Find out which strategies work best for you, but make sure you are actively learning the material!

4. Find a spot of focus

Study spots may be hard to find during finals season as the libraries fill up. Also, consider changing up your study spots every few hours to refocus yourself. Research has also been shown that moving around improves retention of the material!

5. Know your energy cycle

During what times of the day do you have the most energy? You may want to capitalize on this time as much as possible! Leave your laundry or times for your friends until later. And while you capitalize on that time, remember to schedule in breaks when you start getting tired. Maybe go to the gym or a run, take a lunch break. Your body needs good nutrition and exercise as well.

6. Study with friends!

Although, friends can be distracting at times when you get side tracked in your conversations, they can be amazing study partners as well. You can share your knowledge, help quiz each other, and have someone to talk to about your stress!

Lastly and most importantly, it is important to take care you yourself during exam times. Studying effectively requires that your mind and body are in the right place, so here are some reminders for the exam season.

7. Sleep!

Sleep is very important to your brain, including for memory consolidation. Although it may be tempting to stay up all night studying, keeping a sleep schedule is important to get your circadian rhythm in check. It can also help you with your energy level on the day of your exam!

8. Eat!

Look up different studying snacks you may want to make. Your brain needs glucose for it to work, so you should snack on some carbs when you get hungry.

9. Destress!

Take some time off during your studies for destressing. Take a few deep breaths when things get overwhelming. Go for a walk. Take a bath or a shower. There are many stress management strategies you can look up on Keep a few strategies in your back pocket just in case you need it.

Planning ahead, studying smart, and taking care of yourself are all key strategies in ensuring a successful exam season. Hopefully some of these tips were helpful to you. Good luck on your exams!

Post written by: Rit C.

Image credit: Unsplash

Eat Well to Live Well with Graduate Peers

How does what you eat impact your mental and emotional health, studies, and research?

Join the Graduate Student Society and UBC’s Graduate Wellness Peers for a workshop on nutrition and mental health. Attendees will be treated to a hearty, healthy meal while a nutrition expert presents on how what you eat can help – or hinder – mental performance and emotions.

Afterward, the Graduate Wellness Peers will facilitate a discussion around food’s role in graduate student success, and participants will have the opportunity to socialize at the end. There will be take-home resources on hand as well, to help attendees take a holistic approach to their wellness.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring containers to take food home, so you can help us make sure no food goes to waste.

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 28th @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Location: The Nest, Room 4202

Very best wishes,

UBC’s Graduate Wellness Peers



Thinking about New Years Resolutions?


At the start of each year, no fail,  I start to gaze into the infinite possibilities of that year + 1, the imagery that goes along with that hopefulness is this improved version of myself. In this vision I’m glowing and everything is just a little too hazy and dream-like. Short of saying when that clock strikes 12 on January 1st,  there where I stood will be me 2.0 #newyearnewme

Following this, again with no fail, is the disappointment I experience as early as January 2 when I don’t wake up to my 7 am alarm or when I choose to grab a bowl of frosted flakes instead of making that smoothie I bought pre-washed spinach for. I fall into a bit of a rut and lose momentum at the starting line.

The cycle goes on and on..

I’ve heard it said that people don’t do resolutions because it creates a cycle of disappointment and I completely understand where they’re coming from. It’s tempting to buy into the symbolism of big events and to use it as your big catalyst for change. This strategy works for some and for certain scenarios, but a lot of the time it doesn’t work.

This thinking  feeds into the idea of a snap-like change, which as we know is not how things typically get done. A big part of change is that it takes time and effort. The effort required to change can seem insurmountable at times, but in the end, commitment and dedication to your resolution are what will carry you through. I remember my high school teacher telling me the same thing when it came to time management- that it’s easy to think you’ll wake up one morning and have it all figured out. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. You have to work at things and be willing to fail, iterate, change strategies and sometimes goals as you go along, according to yourself and your circumstances.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years (through trial and error) with regards to goals/resolutions/objectives, hopefully they can help you too.

1. Make SMART goals
You may have heard of this before. It is just so relevant in any type of objective you set for yourself. Make your goals: Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Time based. Just like planning a trip it’s important to know where you’re going (that you are realistically able to get there given current and likely accumulated resources), when you wanna get there  (so you can budget your gas and pocket money) and how to know when you’ve reached your destination (yay!)

For more about SMART goal setting:

2. Break the goals down into steps.
Goals can be intimidating. For example: Getting straight A’s. Now let’s use what we learned in step 1. Primarily, is it realistic? Is it specific? We don’t want to set ourselves up for something that is beyond our ability in the present. Let’s revise and say: Get 10% higher on my next midterm. Even still, making that happen is easier said than done. Taking some time to reflect on concrete and doable steps on how to get there can make the goal less daunting and is worth the time.

An example:
Come to class -> take notes -> review notes the day after class -> 1 week before exam make cue cards

3. Find yourself a buddy!
Achieving your resolutions can become fun and feel less like a chore when you have a buddy. They would give you that extra bit of motivation on days when you just want to stay in bed.

How might I find this buddy you might ask?

  • Have casual conversations with your friends about your goal setting. This could lead to discovering what goals you share. I’ve seen this happen with my friends and their resolution to exercise more. One friend brought up how she had found found a good deal for KickBoxing and several others wanted to jump in and join her. Free events or groupons are always a good start to gauging people’s interest!
  • For academics related goal setting, one thing you can do is to make a friend in the class. Ask them if they’d be interested to go through some of the course work together. Otherwise, you can ask the prof if there are existing communication networks set up for the course (ie. piazza, discussion forums, mattermost chat app) to help create study groups.

4. Lastly, It doesn’t have to be a new year.
You can start today. The trick is to realize that even small steps helps you move forward toward those bigger goals.

So to future me: be flexible, be firm when needed, commitment and dedication are key, but most importantly be forgiving with yourself. This is an it’s-the-journey-not-the-destination thing.

Happy New Year!

Post written by: Annika A.

Getting past the term 2 blues

September and January sound weirdly familiar: “read the syllabus,” “what classes are you taking,” “last term was ridiculous,” so on, so forth. And while there’s something to be said for routine, it can also be incredibly draining, which makes getting motivated… well… Hard.

But fear not, we have four tips to build yourself back up and power through the last half of second term:

1. Pat yourself on the back. Four months is a long time, but it’s nothing you haven’t already done! You finished term one, and now you’re officially at the halfway mark for the second term. Just recreate last term’s success!


2. Make Reading Week something special. To make Reading Week extra supernaturally good, set up some interim goals so that you have something to celebrate. Did your homework? Got started on a final project? Dragged yourself out of bed? You’re doing great!


3. Take smaller bites. Netflix is easy to binge because shows are broken up into fun-sized chunks. You can do this with life, too! Don’t sit down expecting to write an entire paper in one go, just aim for one paragraph and go from there — you’ll have 11 done before you know it.


4. Keep your eye on the prize. At the end of the term, you’ll be a year closer to being done, and that’s a big deal. University is hard, and sticking through it is hardly a low-key big deal.


Post Written by: Peter M.


Be travel ready for February Break

As an out-of-province student, I’ve had my fair share of traveling during these last two years at UBC. With reading week around the corner, and thus, hopefully some time for you to take a step back from school work and go on a trip somewhere, I’m here to share with you some techniques I use to get me into the right mindset when I’m about to set out for another journey. Whether I am simply heading back home or traveling to a new city, the past couple of years have taught me how to be a mindful traveler.

I am no stranger to feeling anxious about traveling. Traveling can be a stressful thing. Right before a trip, a myriad of questions swirl through my mind: Have I packed everything? Will I get through security easily? What if I miss my flight? What if something goes completely wrong? One step into the airport and travellers often feel as if they’ve been swept up into a flurry of impatience, anxiety, and perpetually feeling rushed. We become so preoccupied with getting where we need to go, we lose sight of where we are; airports function as means to the end and our eyes are set solely on the end goal: our destination. When moments of anxiety come rushing (no pun intended!) in, take a moment to catch your breath and notice where you are.

You may very well have forgotten something and, chances are, things will not go exactly as planned during your travels, but instead of feeling exasperated by circumstance, consider taking a couple of seconds to pause where you are, perhaps accepting your frustration, but – and this is key – letting it go. Doing so will help you attain the mental clarity you need to shift your attitude, taking you into the rest of your travels, mindfully. Although problems may arise, you can determine how you choose to respond to them. Any mishap can be perceived as a learning experience, any moment of misadventure as a chance to simply reroute your plan.

Learning to be a mindful traveler from the minute you step into an airport will transform your experience, even after you step off the plane at your destination. My most memorable journeys are those that have become impressed into my bones not by having followed my original plans, but by having opened myself up to embracing where I stood. The sounds, tastes, and feelings I experienced when I approached traveling with a healthy mindset became all the more vibrant. Don’t be afraid to take this moment to soak in the environment around you, acknowledge the exhaustion you may feel from having been on a plane for 7 hours or the butterflies fluttering in your belly because you’re about set out for unchartered waters. Listen to the sounds around you, maybe taste something new, or feel the sand between your toes, if your reading week consists of a vacation to a sunny destination. Even if you end up staying in Vancouver during reading week, take some time for yourself: maybe explore the city, walk down to the beach, or even feel the rain against your skin. Whatever you do and wherever you are, notice where you are in the moment when you are there. I guarantee these moments will become some of your most memorable.

Post Written by Taylor. L.

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.

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.


Applications are open for UBC Emergency Medical Aid Team (EMAT)

Now that it’s officially two weeks into 2018, it’s time to really make or break those pesky New Year resolutions. If you were hoping to find an opportunity to practice your first aid skills, to promote health and wellbeing around campus, to make new friends and to take on new challenges though, you’re in luck! The Emergency Medical Aid Team (EMAT) at UBC is currently hiring for the 2018-2019 academic year.

EMAT is a team of student volunteers that seek to promote student wellbeing around campus by providing first aid coverage at a number of events both on and off campus, including sporting events and parties. As a part of UBC Student Health Services, we are devoted to working with our partners to ensure injury prevention and all aspects of emergency care on campus. In addition, we hold a number of outreach events and training sessions throughout the year to educate UBC as a whole about alcohol intoxication, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), safer partying, and more.

Not to mention, throughout the school year, we meet every Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm for weekly training sessions, which allow us to further develop our Standard First Aid certification as well as other crucial leadership and interpersonal skills.

Applications close January 31, so don’t wait and apply now! Check out the following link for the application and position description:

Written by Veena and Geoffrey


Applications to become a Wellness Peer are open! “Why did I become a Wellness Peer?”

Mental health is something that is so important with me. It was ten years ago, and it still is now. I’ve learnt how to persevere when the odds were stacked against me and most importantly, I’ve learned how to flourish.  I was immediately drawn to Wellness Peers because of the emphasis on mental health and wellbeing and seeing that they had topic specific teams, like the Suicide Awareness Team.

Now a whole semester with Wellness Peers, I can say I made one of the greatest decisions. Everyone on this team cares so much for the same things: mental health and general wellbeing. It’s nice having somewhere to go when I’m feeling under the weather and even more amazing getting the opportunity to talk to my fellow peers or supervisors when I need someone to listen. The training is absolutely invaluable and I’m able to use it whenever I’m in the centre and wherever I go. To be able to comfort a distressed student when they come in and help them to feel better when they leave is one of the most valuable and comforting experiences I’ve encountered in my role.

If I had any piece of advice for anyone who cares for mental health or general wellbeing, I would say apply to be a Wellness Peer! It’s a beautiful opportunity and I still feel like I have a lot to learn in this role.

Apply to be a Wellness Peer until January 31st:

Post Written by Mai.

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




Easy and budget friendly treats

School is back into swing, but we’re all probably missing the cozy days at home over the holiday and the abundance of tasty treats and big feasts – I sure am! Chocolates and Christmas cookies are a favourite of mine, but since 2018 has come around, it’s a great opportunity to try some tasty but healthy treats!

The winter holiday season is my favourite time of year to stay at home and bake delicious treats, and I wanted to share some recipes I made over the break.  As a sucker for sweet and salty treats, this “holiday popcorn” from Laura Vitale, my favourite YouTube chef, was the best crunchy snack I tried and shared with my friends.

Ingredients include:

  • Popcorn
  • Melted bittersweet chocolate
  • Melted white chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Salted pretzels

To make it healthier, I took out the white chocolate and mini marshmallows, and drizzled the popcorn with dark chocolate! Perfect for movie watching, or the inevitable studying we all will be doing.

Lastly, I wanted to share this cookie recipe that’s delicious but healthy enough for breakfast on-the-go! Making healthy treats are a challenge, but it allows you to be more creative and to take a break from the indulgent treats around the holidays.

If you don’t have fancy ingredients like pure maple syrup or brown rice syrup (I don’t either), you can substitute it with honey. I’ve made these before, and the fruity jam in the middle is the best part to this nutty and tasty cookie!

Post Written by Tracy

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.

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 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

A Halloween Party Primer


With midterms, hopefully, behind us we’re now rapidly approaching the end of October, which means one thing: Halloween is nearly here. Maybe you’ve spent the last few weeks preparing the perfect costume, or maybe you’re just in it for the candy, or binging horror films on Netflix, but there’s something for everyone on this spooky day. Halloween parties are also some of the best there are, and one of the best excuses to take a break from studying, to emerge from your study holes, and reconnect with the friends you’ve been too busy to see.

We don’t always think about our safety first when we’re out at parties.  So here is the first of a two part article with tips that we hope will help keep you and your friends safe(r) this year on Halloween. It all starts before you leave for the evening, and taking some precautions to ensure the safety of you and your friends can go a long way to staying safe.

Make sure that your phone has enough power to last through the night! Having a way to call a taxi to go home, or texting your friends to see where they are, all depends on whether or not your phone has enough juice.

Plan how you’re getting to the venue and back. That can be any of a designated driver (DD), taxi, or bus. And maybe, one day, if we’re lucky, Uber. Just make sure you’ve either got money, your UPass or your DD.

Bring along some protection (condoms, oral dams, etc.) if you think you might engage in sex at some point throughout the night. Also, don’t forget to use it. Always remember to ask your partner for consent before engaging in sexual activity. To better understand what consent looks like click here .

Eat well before you leave. Especially if you’re going to be consuming alcohol. Alcohol enters your bloodstream more rapidly on an empty stomach, increasing the rate of intoxication.

If you’re going to be drinking alcohol, or anything for that matter, it’s important to think about how to do so safely. Frankly, we’re also just less thoughtful when intoxicated and we don’t always make the same decisions we might have when sober.

Be mindful of what you drink: That highball you were just handed? Might not be a single. Vodka is also hard to detect when mixed, and you might find yourself more intoxicated than you intended. This goes for water, too!

Think about what you post online. Not only might you regret posting or texting while you’re intoxicated, but it might also put you in danger if strangers learn of your location.

Look out for your friends. Since alcohol impairs your judgement, those great ideas when you’re intoxicated might not be so great when you’re sober. Make an agreement with your friends to look out for each other- it might help keep you safe.  And, isn’t partying with friends always better? Keep an eye on your friends, and check in with them, especially if they are acting differently than they usually do.

Ask yourself whether you’re comfortable. Maybe you’re being challenged to jump off something. Or over something. If you don’t feel safe, maybe don’t do it. You’re not superman, despite what you’re inebriated brain is suggesting.

Get consent.

Okay! That’s it for today. Check back in tomorrow for some Halloween specific tips and what you can do to keep you and your friends safer if you or your friends will be consuming any drugs.

Post Written by Adam H. and Halina D.

Flu and Cold Season – Tips to help you feel your best!

October brings many of my favourite things: colourful leaves, warm pumpkin spice lattes and cute Halloween decorations. Unfortunately, it also marks the beginning of flu and cold season. My friends and family are complaining of sore throats and I can hear the symphony of coughing and sneezing on the 99 during my morning commute.

Influenza, or the flu, is an infection caused by the influenza virus. Common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain and exhaustion etc. A cold is characterized by stuffy nose, sore throat but fever and headaches are less common. Nobody likes getting sick, especially in the midst of midterms and assignments so here are some prevention tips from Health Canada that can help you ward off the flu and cold:

1. Get the flu vaccine: The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is a safe and effective way to prevent you from contracting the virus that is administered via a shot or nasal spray. Something important to remember is you cannot get sick from the flu shot because it is a weakened or dead form of the virus. You can talk to your doctor or another healthcare professional if you have any questions and concerns. UBC offers free flu shot clinics from October 31st – November 9th. Locations and more information can be found here.

2. Wash hands often: Washing your hands with warm, soapy water can also prevent the spread of infection. It can be especially important after touching high traffic areas. For example, I always wash my hands after being on the bus and holding onto the bus poles.

3. Avoid touching your mouth/face with your hands: This can transfer germs, viruses and bacteria to your respiratory and oral cavities which makes it easier to gets sick.

4. Clean and disinfect surfaces: It can be especially important to clean areas that you (or others) touch often. Examples include: phone, laptop, doorknobs, light switches etc.

5. Living a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and sleeping well helps keep your immune system running optimally which means it’s strong enough to fight off any infections. The Canadian Food Guide has great tips and tricks for making healthy food choices.

Although the above are great ways to prevent the flu, you may still end up feeling under the weather. Here are some tips to help you feel better and ensure you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Talk to your pharmacist/doctor: Complete recovery from the flu can take from 3 to 6 weeks while symptoms and surprisingly this is the same duration for recovery from a cold. Contact your doctor/pharmacist if symptoms persist or are especially bothersome, or book an appointment with Student Health services here to get help.

Sleep well/stay well rested

Hydrate often

Try to stay home: This is important to prevent spreading the infection and to make sure you are getting the rest you need.

Take care of yourself: Things like drinking warm tea, taking hot showers or curling up with a blanket and a movie may not directly help you beat sickness but can help manage symptoms and are great for the soul.

Stay healthy and happy this flu season everyone!


Post written by Gavin S.


Thriving as an Introvert in First Year Residence

You’re finally moving out and into first year residence! You’re likely receiving your area placement of Totem Park, Place Vanier or Orchard Commons in the coming weeks. It’s an exciting time.

I remember when I was an incoming UBC student and I signed on to live in residence for the first time. Neither of my parents had ever lived in residence and since I was the oldest sibling, I really had no idea what to expect. I expected there to be a lot of partying that took place in residence, and as an introverted person that knowledge intimidated me because I often crave time alone when surrounded by large groups of people. The idea that I might be pressured to socialize 24/7 terrified me as I was worried that I would never have any time alone, not even to brush my teeth at the end of the day since I had heard there were shared floor bathrooms!

The first few weeks of living in Totem Park were incredibly exciting and lively, but I did feel very overwhelmed by the amount of activity. I’ve found that the first few weeks are usually like that for most people. I was excited by the change in environment but I did feel homesick at times. It took time for me to slowly feel more independent and settle into a rhythm. Eventually, I even attended some residence events and found myself having more fun than I expected to or had ever had in high school.


I got involved with my house council and we planned events that we wanted to see happen for our house. I found a quieter group of floor mates who liked to watch Netflix and eat candy on Friday nights instead of party. I started telling my friends that there were times where instead of seeing them I needed to ‘zen-flower’ and spend some time alone. Then, after seeing the power of the residence community to support people through their first year experience, I applied to become a Residence Advisor for the following year. Flash forward to my fifth year, and I’ve worked as a Residence Advisor for the past three years and I’m an incoming Residence Coordinator for the fall. When I think back to my pre-UBC self, I never expected to love living in residence as much as I do now. However, I also learned to recognize the importance of self-care and that it’s okay to say ‘no’ when you don’t want to do an activity with others, because just not wanting to do that activity is reason enough not to do it. This helped contribute to making my residence experience a great one.


On the other hand, if you are looking to meet new people but don’t know where to start, try attending programs in your area! Or talk to your Residence Advisor, as they’re your go-to person whenever you need advice on something. Try checking out a different house community or different floor. You are living in an area with thousands of other people who are all in the same boat as you and there’s absolutely a community out there for you, you just have to find it.


Post written by Paige Lougheed

5 Honest Thoughts on Healthy Cooking as a Beginner

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Cooking as a beginner can seem challenging. Navigating blogs and cookbooks to find recipes that are healthy, tasty, and with all the ingredients you have might feel like a daunting task. Recipes with unfamiliar ingredients that require kitchen tools that you don’t have can make cooking feel intimidating.

You don’t need to be a skilled cook to make healthy, tasty, feel-good meals, but rather, have an open mind and try new things! Here are some honest tips to make healthy cooking feel less overwhelming.

1. You don’t have to follow the recipe.

If you’re a perfectionist like me and always wants to follow the recipe exactly, don’t stress! If you’re missing a minor ingredient, you can skip it as long as it’s not a major component of the recipe (say pasta noodles for a pasta recipe). Don’t let the fact that you’re missing a specific ingredient from a recipe prevent you from making it. As you gain some experience, you can even figure out ways to substitute for ingredients that you don’t have. You can get inspiration from Bon Appetite’s ‘no recipe’ recipes. Depending on the recipe, you can make ingredient substitutions, here are a few examples:

  • Swap dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and swiss chard. You can even substitute parsley for spinach.
  • Don’t have celery? You can substitute it for another crunchy vegetable such as cucumber or carrots.
  • Different types of nuts, such as almonds and cashews can be swapped.
2. Not everything needs to be made from scratch.

Despite what you think, some pre-made foods can be healthy. While cooking your meals is a great way to eat healthier, it’s realistic to recognize that not everything we eat can be made from scratch. Identify and prioritize what you’d like to cook versus what you’d prefer to buy. You can buy some premade ingredients and make additions or substitutions to amp up your meal’s nutritional value. Here are a few examples:

  • If you purchase food or get takeout, such as pasta or chicken, make a side salad to add some vegetables to your meal.
  • You can make canned soup healthier by adding fresh or frozen vegetables such as peas, carrots, or spinach.
  • If you’re eating frozen waffles for breakfast (such as Eggo), make it healthier by adding some peanut butter and banana slices.
  • You can purchase ingredients like pasta sauce and dips such as hummus, to save time so that a portion of your meal is ready to eat.
3. Be mindful of your budget.

There are lots of strategies to ensure that you respect your budget. Seek out sales, coupons, and flyers from your local grocery store. Produce stores tend to have cheaper products than supermarkets and are a great place for fresh fruits and veggies. Flipp is a great smartphone app that lets you look at flyers and coupons from different grocery stores. You can even use it to make a grocery list and easily check out what’s on sale.

4. Plan ahead but also be flexible.

Planning what you’ll eat and when you’ll cook ahead of time can help you save time, money, and reduce food waste. Spend some time doing meal preparation over the weekend, such as cooking a big batch of lunches for the week, cutting up vegetables, or cooking your grains in advance. At the same time, you don’t have to know exactly what you’ll be eating everyday or stick to a rigid meal plan. The reality of life is that plans change and unexpected things come up. A last-minute social gathering might pop up or you might have leftovers from the night before. It’s all about being flexible and adapting to change.

5. Expect that things don’t always turn out.

Despite what the glamour of social media may show us, your meals don’t have to be ‘Insta-perfect’. Sometimes the simplest meals can bring us the greatest pleasures. Don’t be discouraged when a recipe doesn’t turn out or it’s not as tasty as you thought it would be. It’s all part of the process….learning to do anything new takes time, Pinterest fails and all. So get messy and get cooking!

For more cooking inspiration check out Cookspiration, Epicurious, and the UBC Nutrition Blog.

Post written by Naomi Oh

Things to Remember for September

My first day back at UBC is always picturesque and peaceful. The last of summer sunshine illuminates our gorgeous campus and the skies stretch out in front of me, blue and cloudless. I sit in the gigantic lecture halls, chatting with friends, talking about all the events we want to check out. Fast forward a few weeks and I am racing across campus, feeling ill-prepared for my first midterm and probably caught in a miserable downpour without an umbrella. School always catches up with me so fast.

September brings about new opportunities and change. In order to make the most out of this fresh start, there are a few things I want to emphasize going into this year:

Try something new: The first month provides a fresh start and an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to take up a new sport/hobby by dropping into Free Week hosted by UBC Recreation. There are also tons of cool events on campus hosted by AMS to welcome new and returning students alike. Whether you want to catch a movie under the stars, go to an improv show or attend a pool party – AMS has got you covered.

Focus on what’s important: I am always startled reading the syllabi for my classes only to discover some of my midterms are in late September! Often, students get so caught up with campus events and hanging out with friends, they push aside school responsibilities until midterms are right around the corner and panic ensues. Start off your school year strong by knowing exactly when your midterms are and setting up a schedule to study for them.

Get involved: Joining a club or initiative at UBC can be a great way to make meaningful connections to your school and community while making new friends. There are tons of clubs at UBC so you are bound to find one (or more) that matches your passion or vision. Check out Clubs day to find one that resonates with you.

Take care of your wellbeing: As exciting as your first month is, it can be busy and for some, overwhelming. Don’t forget to pay attention to your overall wellbeing throughout this busy time. Your wellbeing is a combination of academic, financial, social, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. It’s important to take care of yourself in all aspects of wellness – not just one. You can learn more about these topics by looking at the Healthy Minds Blog archive. For example, we have suggestions on how to stock a healthy pantry or how to help manage stress. If you want to chat more about your wellness journey– come check out Wellness Center in Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.  

September is a joyous time filled with new experiences. Embracing the opportunities that this month brings can be the first step to making the most of your school year. We hope everybody gets off to a great start!

Post Written by Gavin Shinger