Students talk stress management during exam season

Looming deadlines, final exams a source of stress for Halifax’s students.

Exam season has arrived at Canadian universities and colleges, prompting students across the country to take to Twitter to express their frustrations.

John Camardese, a chemistry study coach at Dalhousie University, says exam stress is often linked to past exam performances and lack of preparation.

“The key is to be well prepared and to start early so you can comfortably cover the required material for the exams,” he said.

With final exams and the stress that comes with them still the norm in Canada, one can’t help but wonder: how stressed out are students about exams, and what can be done to minimize those stress levels?

Majority are ‘very’ stressed

Students were asked via Facebook and Twitter how stressed they are about exams. Of the 10 that responded over the past week, six said they were “very” stressed about finals, while none of them said they are “not at all” stressed.

When asked what they do to help relieve stress, most of them said they find exercise, non-academic reading and watching television to be great stress relievers.

“A good stress reliever is lots of exercise,” said University of King’s College student Sam Krueger. “Any chance to get some is fantastic.”

However, it isn’t just exams and final papers that have students stressed out. According to Dalhousie student Michael Kamras, there’s also an added pressure on students to stay healthy over this important period of time.

“There’s a lot of stress to make sure that you’re keeping healthy, which is really difficult to do considering the high stress levels,” he said.

Students: support services losing effectiveness

Universities do provide support services for exam-stressed students, but many are only available for a short period of time. Dalhousie, for example, brings therapy dogs to their school during exam periods to allow students to take a break from their studies.

In addition, universities like Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie provide on-campus counselling services, but according to the Facebook and Twitter respondents, most people who sought counselling to manage their stress were told the wait to see someone would likely be months.

What’s worse is many students often don’t know their schools offer counselling services and workshops.

“I’m sure there are services offered, but I’m not too aware of them,” Krueger said.

“I think there could be a bit more reaching out by the university for students to take advantage of what they’re offering,” Kamras said.

Requests for comment on this story from counsellors at both universities were either not returned or referred to other campus support services for information, but information on managing stress can be found on their website.

Watch the video below to learn more about how stressed out Halifax students are at this time of the year and what they are doing to try and manage that stress.

In a recent development, the National Post reported last week universities in Alberta and Ontario are considering giving less weight to exams or eventually eliminating them altogether because of the popular belief that “high-stress exams give a false picture of a student’s abilities.”

Until Canadian universities and colleges decide to do away with the final exam once and for all, students will have to continue finding ways to manage exam-related stress.

Visit this website, provided by Dalhousie’s Student Academic Success Services for more information on exam preparation and time management.

And for more information on stress and how it can be managed, check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website, which features tips as well as links to community support services.

Johnnyland debuts all-ages event in Halifax

Organizers of music and art event looking at expansion after successful first show.

The first Johnnyland Halifax event was held on Thursday at the Bus Stop Theatre in the city’s north end. Johnnyland events showcase youth artists and musicians for people of all ages.

Organizer Joe Dent said Johnnyland was started several years ago in Toronto by Dan Drory-Lehrer, who realized how hard it was for underage music fans in the city to attend events.

“In Toronto, all the bands play ‘19 plus’ shows,” said Dent. “There’s so few venues that have all-ages shows.”

Dent’s co-organizer, Camila Salcedo, came up with the idea to bring Johnnyland out east after she discovered that Halifax also lacked all-ages shows.

Johnnyland Halifax's first event was held at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. (Photo: John Sandham)
Johnnyland Halifax’s first event was held at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. (Photo: John Sandham)

Although the Halifax Pavilion regularly holds all-ages shows, most venues around the city do not. Halifax Pop Explosion, arguably the city’s biggest annual music festival, hosts the majority of its events at 19 plus venues.

“When I came here, I was kind of feeling that there weren’t enough all-ages shows and that I was missing that from the Halifax experience,” Salcedo said.

Dent felt the same way, joining the organizing team after a chance encounter with people from Johnnyland Toronto last summer.

As Dent recalls, the Johnnyland Toronto organizers asked him and his band to play some of their winter shows. When he told them he’d be in Halifax until the summer, they told him about Salcedo and her interest in starting Johnnyland Halifax.

Dent and Salcedo met weekly to plan the event. Their first show featured seven local bands and artwork from seven students studying at NSCAD University.

Art by NSCAD students displayed in the lobby of the theatre. (Photo: John Sandham)
Art by NSCAD University students displayed in the lobby of the theatre. (Photo: John Sandham)

Despite the snowstorm last Wednesday that dropped an estimated 50 centimetres of snow on the city, the turnout for the show was exactly what Dent and Salcedo expected.

“Even with the snow, people seem to be really excited,” Salcedo said.

Stepheny Hunter, who works at the Bus Stop, said the theatre was almost filled to its 170-person limit.

“They for sure had over 100 people if not more,” Hunter said. “Most people were dancing and having a good time.”

Dent was optimistic when asked about the future, saying “there’s definitely long-term plans for Johnnyland Halifax.”

“[We’re] just trying to bring the all-ages scene out here so everyone can sing, dance, and have some fun,” Dent said.