CLARIFICATION 01/01/2019: Exam de-stress events and campaigns at the University are for the most part organised by students and student organisations, not the University itself. As far as The Glasgow Guardian is aware, the University does not directly organise any de-stress events.
As a medical student at a prestigious university, I’m no stranger to stress. To be honest, I’ve been running on a base-level of panic since I was about fourteen, and it hasn’t killed me yet so I’m pretty sure I’m in the right career. But there are a few months a year when stress goes from a part of everyday life that we can work through, to a dark monster that weighs on our chest and makes seemingly menial tasks look like Everest. That’s right, it’s exam season. During exam season, I go from being a quasi-functioning human to a walking cigarette with a textbook in her arms. Part of this is undoubtedly to do with my pathological fear of failure, but it must be said, the University doesn’t help.
At the start of my third year, I attended a lecture from our head of year who told us with a completely straight face that our year would be so awful that if we were in relationships, we should just end them now. This woman straight up told us that a personal life wasn’t on the cards for us this year, and she didn’t see anything wrong with this statement (luckily, I’d just been dumped, so I was ahead of the curve). This is just one example of the tremendous amounts of pressure that students in every course are put under, twice a year every year. If you’ve ever read literally anything else The Glasgow Guardian has ever published, you’ll already know that mental health is a huge issue among students right now, and frankly I can see why. We’re told again and again that THESE EXAMS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER TO HAPPEN EVER IN YOUR WHOLE LIFE OR MAYBE ANYONE’S LIVES - but still expected to balance lectures, placement, essay submissions and a social life alongside studying? It’s an unreasonable amount to ask of anyone, especially a group as fragile and unprepared for life as students.
And every year, like clockwork, the University comes up with their usual tirade of "de-stress" seminars, that range from well-intentioned but useless to almost insulting. There's the usual lecture from a faculty member on how to deal with exam stress that's kind-hearted but misguided (taking a ten minute walk when I feel like it’s getting too much is not going to help me - it just gives me a chance to smoke more cigarettes) and signs posted around the library to remind you to take a minute for yourself.
Then there are the more ridiculous of the University's efforts to combat the horrific position they’ve put us in. Inviting students to come and pet a puppy for five minutes after shouting at them repeatedly that their entire worth is based on their exam results is sort of similar to shooting someone in the face and then offering them a new lipstick to help distract from the scar. Not only have I taken a break from my studying to traipse over and stand in a crowded room with dogs who clearly don’t feel safe in a room with so many people, you’ve now also reminded me that I don’t have a dog in Glasgow. One more thing to be upset about, thanks guys.
However, the puppy petting extravaganza isn’t the anti-stress session that really bothers me. Anti-stress yoga sessions are in my opinion one of the worst ideas anyone has ever had. Now, I’m not a regular yoga goer; to be honest, I don’t even have a gym membership this year because I’m tired of spending £100+ a year to lie to myself. But I decided to give this a try - yoga is known to be relaxing, and what’s the worst that can happen, right?
Spoiler: YOGA IS NOT RELAXING.
If someone can explain to me how trying to bend my body into shapes it has never been in or wanted to be in before, while surrounded by size ten women in sports bras and desperately trying not to fart in the person behind me's face is relaxing, I’d love to hear it. This was easily more stressful than all my exams put together, and I heavily considering suing the University for false advertising after.
Exam time is always going to be stressful, I know that. It’s a part of life and for the most part it’s a bearable part. But the Uni needs to stop pretending it’s super woke and mental health aware, because it’s just gotten annoying. If you need to de-stress around exam time, find something that works for you - I’ve found the best way is writing articles for the University paper when I should be studying. We all have our own system; just let's leave dogs and farting in peoples' faces out of it.