4 Tips To Tackle Stress This Exam Season

Happy end of the term classes to all Ryerson students! Today marks the final day of classes for all students across campus, which unfortunately also marks the beginning of finals week for this semester. Stress levels are high and the campus is filled with scrambling student, all attempting to gather all necessary notes for all of their exams. Professors are finalizing exams and answering a million emails a minute, answering questions from stressed and nervous students. It is that time of the year when everyone is eager to delve into the holiday festivities, but also trying to find the best way to cope with and manage all the stress that comes with finals week and being a university student in general. It’s a happy but tough time of the year. Lucky for you, I have some tips that can maybe help you get through the stress, have you motivated for your exams, and ready for the holiday season!

TIP #1: COFFEE IN MODERATION

We all need our daily fix of Tim Hortons or Starbucks and when you’re a university student, it’s almost necessary. Coffee contains the magic C (CAFFEINE) that helps keep us alert for the day and focused for the lectures/labs/tutorials ahead. It’s especially helpful after an all-nighter spent studying, working on a project, or doing a paper (or perhaps simply getting lost in the world of Netflix…). Coffee is great – in moderation. Students tend to turn this “daily fix” during exam season to a “multiple times a day fix.” This can get dangerous and really impact your health negatively – it’ll send your heart rate through the roof, your blood pressure can be through the roof, your diet will be compromised – a lot can go wrong. Don’t over-do it with the coffee. It’s not something that you need to depend on to do well on your exams – your hard work and effort determines that for you. Limit yourself whenever possible and find other ways to stay away (i.e a cold shower in the morning, exercise, breakfast, etc).

Coffee1

TIP #2: FIND A DESIGNATED STUDY SPOT

Finding a place to study and actually be productive is difficult. This is especially difficult in the middle of the busiest city in Canada – Toronto – where Ryerson is so centrally located. Luckily, we have the Student Learning Centre (SLC) to cater to our Study Spot Needs. First, it’s important that your study spot include a desk or a table of some sort to support whatever your study materials are. Avoid anything too small – the more space, the more room to support laptop, textbooks, notebooks, phone, etc. Second, try to find a bright space, perhaps anything with a big window or light coloured walls. Studying in a bright space with lots of light does a lot for your visual senses and makes it easier for you to sit somewhere for a prolonged period of time, staring at a bunch of words and/or numbers. It definitely lessens the load. Lastly, make sure your study spot is not confining. This means to make sure that the spot you choose allows you to get up once in awhile and move around. Not only does this gives you a break from sitting in a chair in front of your computer for hours, it also prevents any sores or muscle aches from happening, which comes with sitting still for hours. If you’re looking for the perfect study spot on campus, I definitely suggest the SLC (specifically floor 5! Not too eerie and quiet, but also quiet enough to give you some peace).

Rendering

TIP #3: DON’T FORGET YOUR DIET

Stress-eating can manifest in two ways: over-eating or under-eating. Some people can binge on junk food and resort to comfort food during such a stressful time. Some people can be so pre-occupied and busy that they may forget to eat and incorporate proper nutrition into their diet. It is important to find some sort of balance in your diet during exam season. Take comfort in moderation – have a donut here and there, get a Frappucino instead of your regular cup of coffee, get some ice cream. Also, it’s not the end of the world if you miss breakfast or have a late dinner. It is expected that your diet will not be at its healthiest during exam season, but it is important to keep in mind that proper nutrition is the best way to keep the mind and body focused and ready to face the day. An improper diet can actually lead to increased levels of fatigue and stress – which is something none of us need any more of during finals weeks. What we do need is increased brain power, which is something fruits and vegetables offer ample amounts of.

brain-healthy-food

TIP #4: SLEEP – TRY IT

Sleep deprivation – we all have it. Many students have grown accustomed to functioning on a lack of sleep but this tends to get worse during exam season, when we stay up and spend the night cramming and/or getting last minute things done. As a result, the lack of sleep can lead to even more fatigue, an increased dependence on caffeine, and even worse – the chance of sleeping in and maybe even sleeping through an exam. Yikes! The best way to avoid this is simple, but hard at the same time – get as much sleep as you can. Whether that means sleeping earlier and waking up earlier or taking short naps throughout the day, do what you need to do to get some rest and relax your brain. An overworked brain will only lead to more stress and sleep revives the mind, making it easier to study and tackle exams. Sleep is important and most importantly, it’s so relaxing!

done

I wish all fellow students at Ryerson and all other schools all the best of luck during this semester’s finals week! Study hard, study well, and do your best! Surround yourself with positive vibes and do what you need to do to stay focused and motivated. We are so close to a well-deserved holiday break so we’re almost there! Hang in there. I’m rooting for you!

youll-be-fine

6 Tips to Remember When Applying for Awards

A blackboard with "helpful tips' written in chalk

There are tons of awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education and to highlight your hard work. While applying for awards might initially seem like more work then they are worth, everyone should apply. When I first started at Ryerson, I didn’t apply for any awards, partly because I thought they were too much work and because I thought there would be so many people applying I wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Neither of which are true. Here are some tips when applying for awards.

1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.

2. Throughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will tell you the criteria for how they are distributed. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to Ryerson, don’t just mention how long you have been a student, write out your volunteer work, what committees you are on, or if you have done a work study program. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.

3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due. Here’s the list of awards available from the Faculty of Community and Social Services. http://www.ryerson.ca/fcs/students/awards/index.html You should also see if your school offers awards specific to your field of study. Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. Don’t wait until the week before.

4. Proof-read. I can’t stress this enough. Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.

5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.

6. Be thankful. If (and when) you do receive an award. Be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

A blackboard with "helpful tips' written in chalkGood Luck everyone!

Helpful Tips for Writing Awards Applications

depicts a dollar sign wearing a graduation cap

There are tons of awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education and to highlight your hard work. While, applying for awards might initially seem like more work then they are worth, everyone should apply. When I first started at Ryerson, I didn’t apply for any awards, partly because I thought they were too much work and because I thought there would be so many people applying I wouldn’t have a chance of winning. Neither of which are true. Last year, was my first attempt at applying for an award and I received the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award from the School of Disability Studies. I learned some valuable tips from that experience.

  1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.
  2. Throughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will tell you the criteria for how they are distributed. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to Ryerson, don’t just mention how long you have been a student, write out your volunteer work, what committees you are on, or if you have done a work study program. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.
  3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due. Click here to see the list of awards available from the Faculty of Community Services. You should also see if your school offers awards specific to your field of study. Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. Don’t wait until the week before.
  4. Proof-read. I can’t stress this enough. Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.
  5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to reevaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.
  6. Be thankful. If (and when) you do receive an award. Be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

Good Luck everyone!

Breakout the BBQ But Beware!

rsz_stock-footage-hamburgers-kooking-on-a-barbeque-grill-with-flames-and-smoke

We are full swing into the summer season now so why not fire up your barbecue and give your summer some sizzle! Barbecues are a great excuse to have family and friends over to enjoy the warm weather and prepare a summer feast. However, like most good things in life there is a downside, and when it comes to grilling meat there are some health dangers that go along with it. Does this mean you should give up barbecuing? The answer here is no you do not have too, but you should take some precautions to avoid exposure to the potential dangers.

Food Poisoning:

Food poisoning is one of the most common dangers when it comes to any type of cooking involving raw meat. If you do get it then it is generally not too severe and goes away within a day or two. Yet, some forms can cause serious illness, which can come from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. You have probably heard about these pathogens in the media with individuals being hospitalized and product recalls. You can get food poisoning by eating raw or undercooked meat, or cross-contamination from uncooked food to food that is prepared and ready for you to eat. Those who are most susceptible are children and seniors because their immune system is not as resilient as healthy adults.

Carcinogens:

You may have heard this term before but may not be too familiar with what it means exactly. Carcinogens refer to cancer-causing compounds. Some common examples are asbestos, pesticides, and tobacco smoke. With barbequing there are two primary ways that it can potentially lead to carcinogens. The first is from breathing in the smoke from the burning coals or smoke that rises when fat drips off the meat onto the grill. Similar to the substances from cigarette smoke, the chemicals called dioxins can be in the smoke that is released. The second way is from production of two types of cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are created from the reaction that occurs under high temperatures between the amino acids and the creatine both naturally a part of meat including beef, pork, chicken, and fish. PHAs result when the fat and other juices drip from the meat you are cooking right onto the heat source. A flame flares up and deposits the PHAs directly on the surface of the meat, making it charred. The risk for this to happen is greater when cooking with fatty meats such as beef.1 Human studies have not been able to establish a direct causal link between HCA and PAH exposure from cooked meat and cancer humans, but epidemiological research has shown an association. Using detailed questionnaires to examine consumption and cooking methods of meat, researchers found that a high consumption of well-done, barbequed, or fried meats was associated with an greater risk of colorectal cancer2, pancreatic cancer3, and prostate cancer.4

Does this mean you should give up barbequeing? The answer here is no you do not have too, but you should take some percautions to avoid exposure to the potential dangers. Below are some guidelines that you can use to minimize your exposure.

Thermometer & Skewer: Use a meat thermometer and also a use a skewer to poke the thickest section of the meat and check to see if the juices that squeeze out are clear and not red. Sometimes meat appears to be cooked well done on the outside but that does not necessarily mean it is thoroughly cooked all throughout. This will help to let you know that that the meat is actually cooked completely.

Trim the Fat: Remove any excess fat to prevent it from dripping off and also choose leaner cuts of meat. This too will help you reduce your intake of saturated unhealthy fats.

Reduce the Cooking Time: The less cooking time at high temperatures the less likely carcinogenic compounds can form. The National Cancer Institute suggests pre-cooking meat first using the oven, stovetop or microwave. This way the meat does not have to stay on the grill for long but you can still get that grilled flavour.

Use Thin Marinades: Thick barbeque sauces containing sugar or honey tend to char the meat and thus possibly increasing your contact to harmful compounds. Choose marinades with vinegar or lemon. In addition, meats that prepared using herbs and spices including thyme, red pepper, and rosemary provide antioxidants to help block the formation of HCAs during cooking. Research conducted at Kansas State University showed that when eye of round steaks were marinated for an hour in a marinade with herbs and spices, there was 88% less total HCAs produced compared to meat not marinated meat.5

References:

1. National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. 2011.

2. Cross et al. Cancer Research, 2010;70(6):2406-2414.

3. Anderson et al. Mutation Research, 2002;506-507:225-231.

4. Cross et al. Cancer Research, 2005,65(24):11779-11784.

5. Marinate Meat for Healthy Grilling? 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20080801/marinate-meat-for-healthy-grilling

New Year’s Unique Resolutions

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you answered yes, have you broken any yet? According to an article in the Toronto Star, in 2011, 52% of individuals who made resolutions broke them within a month and only 19% kept them for one year.1

Also, were your resolutions different and innovative or had you used them a previous year? Did your list contain some of the same old typical items like lose weight, exercise more, or save more money? The same article revealed that the top 10 New Year’s resolutions were:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Stick to a budget
  4. Save more money
  5. Find a better job
  6. Become more organized
  7. Exercise more
  8. Be more patient at work/with others
  9. Eat Better
  10. Become a better person

Now to me this list seems boring. Also, with the high probability of not sticking to your resolutions, why not add more zest and include a few creative ones that only require your efforts occasionally, one or two times, or maybe even once each season. Here at 10 unique ones you can use to complement your list:

  1. Donate blood
  2. Next time you are at a drive thru, pay for the meal of the car behind you and give the cashier a “Pay it Forward” card to pass on to start a chain reaction
  3. Try a new recipe
  4. Turn your cell phone off for one whole day!
  5. Watch a foreign film
  6. Write a short story or poem
  7. Learn all the lyrics to a song you like and sing the whole thing in the shower
  8. Have coffee with one of the many friends that you often tell “we should get together for coffee sometime”
  9. Tell the manager of a restaurant how great your waiter/waitress was to brighten someone else’s day
  10.  Attend a seminar/conference/workshop on a topic that interests you

Try a few of these out. They are all geared toward supporting your personal growth and development. In addition, none of these require a major commitment from you.

Furthermore, some extra advice to help you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.

Write it down: Put them on paper, and place them somewhere visible like on your fridge or bathroom mirror, which will make them concrete and less likely that you will forget about them.

Keep it small and simple: Make your resolutions realistic and small by not excluding ones that require a big purchase or a complete daily routine overhaul. Smaller simpler changes are much easier to keep.

Plan: Prepare the day before by setting the intention, time, and location of the resolution you are going to do the next day.

Make it public: Tell your resolutions to your friends and family or post them on Facebook, Twitter, or send an email to your close friends. Sometimes telling others gives you an extra push to follow through on your goals and makes you accountable

Keep trying: Lastly, do not quit! If you end up not following through, do not give up and try another attempt.

Make your most unique New Year’s Resolution to be following through and completing your list by the end of the year!! Happy 2013 Everyone!!