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De-stressing to Succeed

Contributor Vicky Chang

Courtesy of PDEE Inc.

The air is crisp, the leaves are red and the pumpkin spiced lattes are back — it’s that time of year: Fall! But also midterm season.

Whether it’s your first major evaluation or your fourth, the stress is real. It can also prove to be overwhelming, and leaving you feel burnt out. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

As a first-year science student here at Western University, I found the transition between high school and university to be more than just a slight jump – it was a leap into a pool of harsh realities.

Overwhelmed with the readings and the pace of work, I found myself to be more stressed than ever. As a result, I found myself searching and trying various things such as meditating and goal setting, in an attempt to keep myself sane through all the stress. Some things worked for me and some things I had to learn the hard way, but without further ado, here are some tips for you.

University resources are your friend

One of the most wonderful things about our campus is the abundance of resources available. So take advantage of all the resources that Western has to offer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out for help. Everyone at Western is here to help you – so take the first step and reach out!

Mental Health

Crisis Contacts offers support 24 hours a day, year round. There will always be someone on the line for crisis response and counselling. You can reach them at (1-877-433-0701).

Wellness Education Centre is your student-run, one stop shop for drop-ins. They provide support for various aspects of wellness, such as academics, spiritual well-being, sexual violence and more. The staff and volunteers can answer your questions about student health and wellness, or connect you with someone who can.

The Student Development Centre is home to a variety of services run by highly trained staff members and students there to support your academic, personal and professional journey at Western. This centre offers services such as learning skills workshops and writing support. They also offer crisis and counselling services.

Student Health Services is an appointment-based health clinic for Western students, where urgent problems can also be seen during a walk-in. Active and enrolled Western students can also ask to be referred to a psychiatrist with a referral from a family/community-based physician.

Active Minds is a club at Western that encourages and empowers students to eradicate the stigma around mental health. This initiative educates others and promotes help-seeking by providing information and leadership opportunities to the next generation of mental health advocates.

Wellness Wednesdays with Tracy is a weekly event hosted by Western’s Education Centre; it allows students to relax and re-energize through reiki and yoga. The best part? It’s free! All you have to do is register via Career Central.


The LAMP Mentorship Program  is a university-run group lead by extensively trained and carefully selected upper year students, designed to help you make connections with other students, have a student mentor, learn about the services at Western and build lasting friendships. There is LAMP 1.0 for first-years and LAMP 2.0 for second year students. If you have questions, or wish to request a LAMP 1.0 mentor, you can email them at

The Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Centre is a free drop-in academic assistance program where you can discuss course-specific questions and learn strategies to reach your academic goals  with a Learning Peer in a supportive environment.

Academic counsellors are available for each faculty, where Science Academic Counselling is located in room 280 on the second floor of NCB. You can book appointments, drop in, or visit the walk in counselling on Fridays 10 to noon, no appointments necessary.


Visiting your professors’ office hours or emailing them is a great way to clarify and discuss related questions to your course. While they may seem scary, I promise you they’re there to help you!

If you need help with your essays, applications or assignments, you can visit the writing centre! You can either drop-in or book an appointment. During these sessions, you will sit one-on-one with a writing mentor to look over grammar, content and other aspects of your writing. You can bring in your assignment at any stage of the writing process (yes, even the brainstorming process), and they will help you.

Student Support

Your faculty/residence sophs are one of your biggest supporters on campus — you can reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns. Remember, they are there to guide you through your first year to make it a successful one.

Your Residence Advisors (RAs) are there to ensure that all residence policies are upheld and to address any concerns from the residents in the building. So if you have any questions or concerns about your rez life, go knock on the door of your friendly RA!

The Peer Support Centre is located in UCC 256, near the Western Gazette. The centre is staffed by Western students who are passionate about helping those in their community. These students are trained volunteers in peer-based support, and are supervised by staff throughout the year.

The centre is open every week Monday-Friday, 10:00AM – 4:00PM during the academic year.

In the evening, the centre facilitates discussion groups. For a list and schedule of their discussion groups, visit their Facebook page.

Feedme is a student-run initiative at Western that aims to reduce food insecurity by listing free food events on campus. Check their Facebook page or Food Calendar for updates!

Prioritize and divide up work

Are you six chapters behind in physics, or behind on those biology readings? Prioritize your work and divide it into manageable pieces.

Seeing a blank word document instead of what’s supposed to be your assignment can feel overwhelming and cause your stress levels to rise. If you reevaluate your tasks at hand, and rank them in order of most important, then you’ll be able to create a more manageable workload for yourself. Remember to schedule and factor in short breaks in between work, you want to be productive, not burn yourself out!

Get enough sleep and take a break for God’s sake

Pulling late nights at Taylor and grinding until 3 a.m. may sound like a good idea to beat the exam demons. But it isn’t.

This may seem like an old nagging mantra, but getting enough sleep is ESSENTIAL for doing well in school. When you become exhausted, your concentration decreases. If you don’t get a good night’s rest, you’ll probably end up wasting more time because your studying won’t necessarily be productive.

Another tip is to take a break. Go meet up with friends, take a walk around campus, or just do something that makes you happy. Even if it’s just for a short while, sometimes the smallest things make a big difference.

From personal experience, I found that being cooped up indoors, immersed in school work only made me feel more stressed and burnt out. So schedule that half hour breather, get up and go for that fresh air to circulate the blood. Trust me, you will come back to your desk more energized and ready to tackle anything.

I admit this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, taking care of your body is the first step to reducing harmful level of stress.

Remember, you are stronger than you think. Step back, and de-stress yourself to succeed. You can do this, believe in yourself! If you believe you can, you will. Now go and ace those midterms, wishing you all the best!

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