Why you should take a break during exam season

To chill or not to chill… that is the question.

The question riding on the fringes of everyone’s mind as exam pressure sinks in. We all share that student struggle. Taking a break feels more of a sin than a blessing. Winding down sparks more anxiety than it does abate it. Calming the mind adds worry rather than letting it dissipate.

Should we allow ourselves to chill?

“It is principally important,” emphasises counsellor at the University of Newcastle, Richard Thorpe.

De-stressing should never take the backseat. However, the trick to examination success is to feed the mind with a healthy detox!

So here is a hearty three-course guide to chill for everyone with an appetite to wind down.

Chill Mindfully

Mindfulness. The buzzword of the modern era.

“Mindfulness is being able to put your attention into the present moment with a quality of non-judgement,” explains Richard.

Richard elaborates that mindfulness is not restricted to the yoga mat in downward facing dog. Some dive into art, others, pump iron, and a few may be found in a cosy café, hands wrapped around a mug of warm coffee.

“We can practice mindfulness anywhere by tuning in to our five senses in the present moment with a sense of curiosity, ” says Richard.

It is through mindfulness that we are able to train our focus by clearing unwanted thoughts and seeking clarity during high pressure situations.

Richard further recommends stretching as an all-inclusive mindfulness activity for the desk-bound university student. He emphasises noticing the feeling of stretched muscle, controlled breath and thoughts in your mind.

So here are three accessible desk stretches to reinvigorate yourself during those five-minute study breaks.

1. Inner Thigh Stretch

Heels an inch more than a hip-width distance. Toes and shoulders facing forward. Fold forward through your hips. Elbows supported on thighs. To increase intensity, fingers to the floor.

2. Outer Thigh Stretch

Right ankle over left thigh. Hug right knee to chest. To go deeper, fold through the hip towards your right or left knee. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Spinal Twist

Cross right knee over left knee. Grip your right knee with your left hand. Grab the back support of your chair with your right hand. Twist spine to the right. Repeat on the opposite side.

Give those stiff muscles some loving!

Chill on the Go

Watch out folks, there’s a van on a mission.

Its mission: provide stress relief where it is needed. Let us introduce the Stress Less Van!

“We’re going to take the event to the students,” says Rowan Stevenson from the Student Life team.

The novel nomadic concept centres around the typical stressed student on the move. The van will travel to various locations following student traffic, and within 10 minutes, everything is out and ready to engage the crowd.

Loaded with a groovy surf board atop a funky decal exterior, it is a hard van to miss.

Catch them at high profile locations such as the Auchmuty Courtyard and NUspace as well as places where you least expect them to be.

“We have noticed that students tend to stick to their study areas. We want to bring it to their study environment, where they need it most,” reflects Rowan.

The van offers healthy food and activities catered to the commuting student or students looking for a longer wind down. Much of its activities remain a mystery to maintain the element of surprise.

The van will be providing spontaneous stress relief during weekdays at the Callaghan Campus.

“Stress Less, Chill More”, is the name of the game as Rowan puts it.

MicrosoftTeams-image (2)

Chill under Guidance

Exam pressure got you in a spin?

Support services are readily provided by University of Newcastle’s very own dedicated counselling team.

“We create a safe non-judgemental space to solve student related problems,” says Richard.

Counselling services offer expertise, confidentiality and empowerment to the student. Its aim is to facilitate the client to find the best solution for them.

Richard encourages students to take the first step to fully utilise the well-equipped support services. There are three simple ways to access the service. You can book an appointment over the phone at 4921 6622, by completing the form online or by emailing the counselling service at counselling@newcastle.edu.au.

Final Tips

Richard reveals his three-ingredient recipe for examination success:

1. Take regular breaks with tools such as the Pomodoro Technique.

2. Exercise mindfulness during breaks.

3. Practice a definite switch off point for a good night’s sleep.

Happy studying!

Leave a Reply