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Tips for balancing holiday cheer with exam stress

Image courtesy of Ben Harwood (cc)

The snow is falling, festive music is filling the air, and holiday drinks have become a staple. But unfortunately for students, there is something that gets in the way of fully embracing the holiday cheer: exams.

With a much-deserved break just around the corner, it’s hard to stay focused on school. Finding a balance between the excitement of the holidays and the stress of finals isn’t easy, but here are some tips to keep everything in perspective.

Avoid the mall

During the holidays, the mall will suck you in. Before you know it, you will have spent hours wandering store to store picking out gifts for family and friends (or buying new things for yourself on sale). You should either finish your shopping before your exams start or don’t worry about it until after they’re over.

Moderation is key

Even though there might be a Home Alone marathon on TV, it doesn’t mean you should binge watch Christmas movies to distract yourself from studying. At the same time, you don’t have to completely cut yourself off from indulging in any of your familiar Christmas comforts. Also, while you’ll want to attend every ugly sweater party you are invited to, make time for one of them and save the real partying for later.


Stick to a schedule

Before you get overwhelmed, plan your time wisely. One of the best ways to do this is to make a calendar. By figuring out how long it will take you to prepare for each of your exams, you can plan when you are going to study or write that take-home you forgot about. Colour coding also helps, so don’t be afraid to whip out those highlighters. When you write out your upcoming schedule, you can plan timeslots for taking a bit of a break.

Better together

Exams are stressful, so take an afternoon to grab some hot chocolate with a friend and have a study date. Even if you aren’t taking the same exam, having someone to keep you company while studying will make the process slightly less daunting.

Don’t take it out on others

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, or Chrismukkah, don’t spoil the holiday cheer of others and put down their excitement. Some people live and breathe these holidays, treating them more as a two-month celebration than just a one-day (or eight-night) event.

Keep your eye on the prize

Just think, in a couple  weeks or less, you’ll get to sleep in, spend a day curled up on the couch with a good book or hit the slopes with friends. Focus on the rewards at the end and it will make the whole process much easier to bear.