Easier said than done: tips to handle stress

Burnout feels inevitable this time of year, as do tips to help avoid it—but do those “helpful tips” actually work?

It’s 4 a.m. and I’ve just finished my fourth cup of coffee. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—burnout season. Exams are somehow just around the corner, but you’ve barely recovered from the last exam season. You’re running on fumes and wondering where all the hours in a day go. Inevitably, you’re burnt out. 

And somehow, burnout really does seem inevitable. Harvard Business Review puts it well, saying that this exhaustion “can stem from the demands of an always-on, 24/7 organizational culture, intense time pressure, or simply having too much to do, especially when you lack control over your work, dislike it, or don’t have the necessary skills to accomplish it.” 

(Felt that.)

Our world seems to just be built this way. School prioritizes results over learning, and work prizes productivity over well-being. That realization begs the question: is there anything we can do about it? 

With the end of semester burnout comes a staple of the season: tips and tricks to handle the stress. The issue is that many of these tips are much easier said than done and don’t address the inherent issues within our education system, workforce, and productivity culture. 

To delve deeper, I considered common advice and asked students from various universities and CEGEPs for their thoughts on burnout to find out whether these so-called “helpful tips” are actually helpful at all, and to discover their own personal strategies to manage stress. 

Get more sleep? This is the one I struggle with the most. My roommate, on the other hand, has no trouble prioritizing her sleep schedule. “All-nighters are a scam,” said Georgia C. Leggett, a McGill anthropology student. “I found I did my lowest quality work late at night, so I started making sleep my main priority. It makes me feel better, I get more done, and I buy less concealer.” 

Eat healthy? Nobody prioritizes their health more than Francesca Foy, a McGill finance student who only knows two food groups during exam season: RedBull and Couche-Tard sandwiches. She claims it’s an absolute must for “the grind,” but she does notice a big difference when she makes the time to eat right. She enjoys meal prepping with friends as a social activity: “That way you’re having a good time but also being productive and doing something good for your health. Plus, I suck at cooking, so this is a sneaky way to let my friends do all the work.” 

Stay active? “The problem is that when you’re approaching burnout, every technique feels like a chore,” said Nicolas Lachapelle, who is studying engineering at UOttawa. He and burnout are good friends, so he tackles the issue by going on long stress walks. Personally, I’m a big fan of multi-tasking—listening to your lectures while going for a run, or even doing a reading on a stationary bike can help integrate some movement into your study grind. 

Make studying fun? You can usually find Dylan Badke-Ingerman in the Concordia library (though she’s a Dawson student), distracting me with gossip and suspicious Bulk Barn jelly beans. We’ve taken to hosting regular study sessions, and though we don’t get very much done, the study parties at least make us feel like we’re in it together. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, ” Badke said. “I actually get lots done when we study together.” Well, that makes one of us. 

Find what works for you! Ultimately, you need to find methods and tricks that make sense for who you are and the life you lead. I may never have a proper sleep schedule or a diet that isn’t 95 per cent stolen leftovers (sorry Georgia), but I do have floor naps and Bulk Barn. And when all else fails, I try to remember: school does matter, but not more than health and well-being. So even though I have three more assignments to finish, I think it’s time to call it a night. 


Legislative overhaul sparks housing anxiety amongst students

Lease transfer, an indirect method of rent control, may no longer be a viable option to renting students

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s new housing legislature, Bill 31, is sending ripples across the housing market as students must consider moving come their next lease renewal period.

Introduced in early summer, the bill has been under scrutiny by landlords and tenants alike for its changes. Amongst them is the removal of Article 7, which gives landlords permission to deny lease assignments between tenants, better known as lease transfers.

Although said to be fair and balanced by Housing Minister France-Elaine Duranceau, protests across Quebec by tenant rights groups have been organized to argue otherwise.

“It is a direct attack on our right to affordable housing,” Ria Mayer said, a student organizer for the Concordia Research and Education Workers’ Union (CREW-CSN), who attended one of these protests. “It kind of spits in the face of tenants everywhere.”

In Préfontaine Park on Sept. 16, a demonstration was held by the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) to protest the latest bill and the increased cost of living. 

Mayer explained that for years, those of lower-income housing could rely on lease transfers to artificially maintain a stable cost of living while circumventing rent increases by avoiding the lease renewal period. 

Mayer added that she had the lease transfers to thank for her brother’s current living space, an opportunity she lamented over, as her peers may no longer be able to do the same soon.

“For some students it is a way to have access to housing for the first time,” Cedric Dussault, spokesperson for RCLALQ, said. “These students often don’t have anyone to back them up for their lease.”

Protesters marching down the street against Bill 31’s unfair housing laws. / Photo by Miet Verhauwaert 

Dussault explained that although lease transfers won’t be disappearing outright, the process will become much more threatening for tenants, as landlords would be given the power to nullify a lease. 

Dussault added that this addition to lease transfer law will in turn create a greater disparity in power between tenant and landlord.

Adia Giddings, an assistant worker at Concordia’s Housing and Job Resource Center (HOJO), said that she’s already witnessed the effects first-hand of the proposed bill on some students.

“We’re seeing most students go to court over their lease transfers right now, landlords are just outright denying it, they’re coming up with excuses,” Giddings said. “So, all of these types of issues have already started.”

Despite protests recently emerging throughout the province, Giddings claims that landlord groups such as the Landlord Corporation des Propriétaires Immobiliers du Québec (CORPIQ) have discussed enacting a bill to render lease transfers less viable for almost two years.

Last week’s demonstration lasted almost four hours, with separate marches taking place simultaneously in Montreal, Quebec City, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, and Sherbrooke.

With the Bill expected to be debated over later in the fall , only time will tell if the protestors’ actions will make the desired mark.


Fighting Back-to-School Blues Season

New and current students are once again faced with warding off anxiety over returning to classes.

With the semester in full swing, a palpable sense of anxiety pervades the minds of many students across campus—it’s back-to-school blues season. 

This switch to a heavier workload and adjusting to a new schedule might put some students in an uncomfortable position, one they might not be able to deal with alone.

Hera Baboudjian, a registered social worker in Quebec, said that anxiety over returning to the academic grind is common well into a person’s adulthood.

“It’s managing the workload while dealing with relationships—family or otherwise—and coming back to that can be hard,” Baboudjian said. “In a way, it’s like entering a mini-society and everyone has their role to deal with.”

Baboudjian explained academic stress manifests differently from one person to another. Different students come from situations independent from their academic lives. As such, dealing with these same issues is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Griffin Reed, a first-year music student, said he wasn’t looking forward to his first day on campus. “I was completely nervous. It’s a new campus, new faces, new everything,” Reed said. “I did not know there were like five buildings I had to find.” 

He was filled with dread over navigating his long commute from the Laurentides. He turned to one of his only comforts, listening to music during his ride.

Reed expressed an interest in Concordia’s Zen Dens, which offer mental health services and peer support. However, Reed said his classes were ultimately not as stressful as he thought. “I think it’ll just take time,” added Reed. “I can still see the Zen Dens usefulness.” 

Alternatively, Concordia’s health and wellness page offers tools and guides a student can refer to during times of stress, a resource Baboudjian recommended as well. 

She believes the first steps a person should take to fight their anxiety is to get organized, set realistic goals for themselves and find resources to help them.

More experienced students such as Yasmine Bakeeso, a second-year student in marketing, have acclimated to the stress that comes from returning to classes.

“You can’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you’re not at the place you want to be right now, you won’t regret giving it your best,” Bakesso explained. 

Despite having a full year of university under her belt, Bakesso anticipates the coming semester might take a toll on her mental health. As such, she considered reaching out to available specialists on campus, should the need for counseling arise.

Alessio Cipriano-Kardous, a third-year computer science student, said that he sympathizes with students who get nervous over a new semester. Working part-time as an IT technician, he’s no stranger to dealing with a lot on his plate. 

“It gets exhausting. I’ve learned to cope by giving myself the time to organize myself every week,” he explained. “The people who get used to it seem like the exception, but they don’t have to be.”


Use physical activity to your advantage this end of semester

“Something is better than nothing,” experts say

It’s the final sprint, the home stretch, the end of the third period: it’s exam season, and it comes with an overwhelming amount of stress and an extremely compact schedule.

However, to navigate this stress, your greatest ally could very well be physical activity. Erin Goldstein, course instructor in the department of applied human sciences and education at Concordia, emphasized how exercise complements studying.

“When you exercise, your body releases endorphins,” Goldstein said. “We know that exercise helps you concentrate, helps with your memory, helps with your sleep.”

Starting an exercise routine in the middle of a time crunch can seem daunting, but you need less physical activity than you think to get the stress release. Dr. Simon Bacon, professor in the department of applied health, kinesiology and physiology, said that going from nothing to something brings the biggest benefits.

“Just the action of doing something, doing some physical activity is where you get the most benefit,” Bacon said. “Then, the more you can layer on top of that, the better off you’re going to be.”

“If you’re someone that’s currently doing nothing, even just doing a little bit to start is so beneficial for you,” added Goldstein.

Both Goldstein and Bacon are aware of the lack of time that the end of the semester brings. They proposed ways to fit physical activity into your current routine. 

Bacon strongly suggests breaking up your next study session with light physical activity.

“If you’ve been sitting at the computer for an hour, getting up and walking two minutes can actually impact a whole bunch of things physiologically that indirectly we’ve seen is related to stress,” he said. “Small things count.”

Along the same lines, he encouraged students who have classes on upper floors to climb a few flights of stairs on the way.

“Oftentimes, having small little tweaks is manageable and doesn’t create additional strain,” he said. “You don’t want to be adding to the stress in certain circumstances.”

Goldstein spoke on the upcoming spring weather, which will be ideal for short walks in-between study sessions. Otherwise, she mentioned the panoply of guided exercise routines that exist on YouTube. Most importantly, she emphasized the importance of remaining realistic.

“Starting smaller is always better because you’re more realistic and you’re more able to crush that goal,” she said. “You feel really good about it and motivated to go for more.”

Bacon added that students who are already fit and have a set exercise routine, when put under a stressful situation, have a lesser reaction.

“Regular physical activity ahead of time is going to give you some degree of protection in an acute stressful situation,” he explained.

Nonetheless, he said that you shouldn’t add to your current amounts of stress by worrying about keeping a strict exercise schedule.

“In a short-term situation [of stress], doing the thing that’s going to give you the greatest peace of mind is going to be predominant,” he said. “If it’s going to stress you out more to go to the gym than it is to sit down to do that studying, do the study.”

Goldstein also noted that, on top of physical activity, having a good sleep schedule and good nutrition is crucial. She recommends seven to nine hours of sleep and meal-prepping for the following week.

“Trying to stay away from processed foods, trying to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, plant proteins, those are going to be really beneficial to help with mood,” she explained.

Now, once you’ve aced your exams and reduced your stress using these tips, don’t forget to congratulate yourself and allow yourself to relax. Then, consider implementing physical activity into your regular routine. But remember, the key is to be realistic and progressive.

Community Student Life

End of semester blues

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this stressful time

End of semester is upon us, and it’s pretty much dreadful for anyone you talk to. Things are piling up and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the organization Mental Health Partners, there are nine decompressing techniques that could help anyone get through tough times. 

While some enjoy going on a hike outdoors, others would rather decompress through meditation and deep breathing. Or even just simply talking it out with family and friends could make the world of difference.

In my personal opinion, the best techniques that work for me are exercising, taking a day off, and reading.

I am not the most active person out there, but with the weather getting nicer I have been finding walks really help channel my stress. I feel that while I’m walking I am not thinking about what schoolwork I need to do next. Instead, I am just focused on my surroundings. My boyfriend and I like to name out all the different models of cars that we spot while out walking.

Even though some decompressing techniques might work for me, I was curious as to which different decompressing techniques work for other Concordia students. 

For those I spoke to, it seems like there is a wide variety of preferred decompressing coping mechanisms.

Adriana Gentile, a third-year journalism student, explains, “I often like to go outside and take a walk and do some breathing techniques. Also, listening to music helps me a lot.”

Jessica Laturnus, a third-year Irish studies student, says, “Sometimes it’s a movie, sometimes it’s a rain app. I find my rain app so useful when I have so many things to do. I have a hard time sleeping.”

This high-intensity time could result in a lack of sleep for some students, (okay a LOT of students). I personally could attest to that one.

Laturnus also explained that aside from her rain app, she finds ambient noise or white noise helpful for sleep.

During these last few weeks of crunch time, I would like to remind all my fellow peers out there that it’s okay to take things a little slower and not so rushed. One thing at a time and things will all work out.

Student Life

White Space — why having a mental blank canvas is important

There’s a reason why our best ideas occur in the shower or during our morning run

Ever felt like there just isn’t enough time in your day? For many of us, our reality is often running or maybe even sprinting between back-to-back classes, while simultaneously working and juggling assignments, emails, exams, and a cup of coffee that got cold 20 minutes ago. After a week or two of exams, too many deadlines, and just the regular stress of life, do you feel that midterm syndrome is pushing you down?

Well, you are not alone.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. There isn’t a person on Earth that gets more or less than anyone else. The key differentiator becomes who can leverage their 24 hours most appropriately. I didn’t use the word “efficiently” or “effectively” because I want to avoid the notion that packing more stuff into your day is the ultimate goal. I am actually advocating the opposite.

So how can we overcome this self-imposed frantic notion of busyness, and regain our ability to be truly productive and creative? The first step is to proactively include white space into our routines.

What is white space?

White space is dedicated time that allows  you to take a mental pause from university and other commitments to let your mind travel in whatever direction it sees fit. It is perhaps one hour or two, preferably scheduled into your calendar in advance, intended to allow and sometimes force you to zoom out, reflect, relax, and refuel.

It’s like giving yourself a mental blank canvas. The more time you give yourself to stop and take a breath instead of scheduling every minute of your day, the more focused and clear-minded you will be when you are studying, writing that paper, or working.

One analogy to illustrate this is of a slow computer. If you have too many applications and programs running on your computer at once the entire system slows down. Too many files open means less efficiency. To offset this, you need to close the apps you aren’t using. This then frees up a great deal of memory.

Often, your brain is holding on to too many things, which requires it to to stay running in order to maintain those files (i.e. thoughts and to-do lists). Basically, your brain and body are constantly giving you the spinning dial or hourglass image you get on your computer when it needs time to execute an action. Following this analogy, the goal is to close down unused files, and then collapse and condense the remaining ones we still need to use. By doing so, you free up space in your operating system which allows for more creativity, problem-solving, and overall efficiency.

It’s easier to describe white space by what it isn’t. White space is not time to create to-do lists, work on your assignment or finish that pending email.

The general idea of white space is to zone out and reconnect but it is really up to you. A few ideas to get you started: going for a walk around the block, free drawing with no specific objective, automatic writing, and meditation.

Create your own white space

The next time your mind starts buzzing and you realize that you haven’t had a second to stop and take a breath in your day, free up space in your operating system with these four easy steps:

Step 1: Do an audit of how you are currently spending your time

Step 2: Take control of your calendar and schedule your white space in advance if possible

Step 3: Find activities that work for you

Step 4: Guard and protect white space

Alright, the ball is in your court now. You’ve got the basics. What are you going to do with them?

Is this going to be another strategy you file away under “good ideas to try later,” or are you truly committed to making a difference?


Feature graphic by James Fay


Another article about COVID-19

Over the years as a journalism student, I have struggled with the balance between staying informed and staying sane.

Living through Trump’s presidency, dire times for climate change and now COVID-19, it’s hard to find ways to turn my brain off and take care of myself.

Even though this is something that I have been trying to balance for over five years, I can’t say I have come close to mastering it, even prior to this pandemic.

As we unpack some strategies on how to stay calm during these wild times, remember that I am right there with you—an unnerved and anxious girl doing her best.

For some, the news is simply too much. This being said, it’s quite difficult to stay informed without listening to at least some type of news, as you don’t want to depend on second-hand information. Although, in a situation like COVID-19, where it feels like you must stay informed at all times, I would suggest designating a specific time of your day to check in on what’s happening.

Things are moving quickly, but they are also moving very, very slowly. We are likely to be in this mess for quite some time, so together let’s learn how to share our brainpower with the outside world and within our apartments (or wherever it might be that you’re self-isolating.)

I’ll be honest, yesterday I spent a lot of the day on the couch. I began to ruminate about how long I’m going to be in this situation, how bored I am and when I’ll get my life back. This type of thinking is normal during a crisis, but one thing that brought me back to a more realistic mindset was to remember how lucky I am.

The other day, one of my friends said, “I can’t think of another person that is less affected by this than me.”

For me, this is absolutely true. My challenge is finding a balance between making space for myself to feel anxious and uncomfortable during this time while keeping perspective. I have so much privilege in this situation and it’s harmful to disregard that.

I’m in a family of health-care workers. They are lovely stress balls of worry, as they see what’s happening on the front lines. Yes, somedays I am twiddling my thumbs, but that in itself is a privilege.

Despite the privilege, let yourself feel whatever you are feeling, even if it’s self-pity and despair. Then, get up and move. We can do this.

One thing you can do during these times is reach out on social media and see if anyone needs help. If you are able to, see if you can pick up groceries for someone, walk their dog, donate to the food bank or help promote small businesses. Even just reaching out to your circle to see who needs to chat could be beneficial.

Social media has been a positive force through some of these crazy times. My echo-chamber is filled with activity suggestions, poignant comics and uplifting posts—yours can be too! Unfollow anyone that is making you anxious, and let it be a sanctuary of helpful tips and tricks. It’s helped me feel less alone—maybe it will help you too!

Although it’s a time where people need to come together, also keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself. Keep your house clean, create a space that makes you feel calm and perhaps make a solid schedule of tasks you’d like to complete each day.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that COVID-19 is taking over every single conversation I’ve had in the past little while. Heck, it even took over this whole article. Try, if you can, to distract yourself throughout the day as well. Even if you can only do it for 10 minutes, we can start there. Learn a silly dance, go for a run or play a new videogame.

As cliche as it sounds, it looks like we are really just going to have to take one day at a time. Oh! And call your mom, that always helps. 


Graphic by Sasha Axenova


“Rhythm of community”: Combatting stress through music

All students are welcome to the weekly drum circles in the Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre.

The Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre is home to weekly community drum circles. Irene Feher, a Concordia University music professor, and Dylan Gitalis, who is learning facilitation techniques from a program with Music for People, both lead the event. Feher teaches voice, and joined the Drum Circle last year. The ultimate goal of these weekly music jams is to combat stress and isolation, and to build community.

“I believe so strongly in the power of music to enrich lives in so many ways,” Feher said. “Drumming grounds us, connects us, and the physical activity [is good for the body]. I feel the physical, emotional, cognitive and social benefits of drumming.”

Every Monday from 6 to 7 p.m., students from all programs are welcome to this event.

Although the event takes place in the Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre, Feher said that the drum sessions are secular.

“We use the universal language of music, and don’t practice any particular style,” said Feher.

Feher continued that they don’t necessarily drum in Indigenous or African style, although the students are using African drums.

Feher explained that students attending the event use the “rhythm of community,” and the drumming styles emerge spontaneously, with the moment.

“I want us to reflect the mosaic at Concordia, this wonderful community we have of people from different religions and backgrounds,” said Feher.

The event usually garners around 10 to 12 students, but the room has the capacity for about 20 people.

Using drum circles as a therapeutic form of stress-relief has been studied before. One 2010 research paper published in the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy found that more than half of drum circle participants – who were all young adults in school – reported that their drum circle group helped the participants with stress, anger and lack of motivation. The same study found that some of the participants reported “therapeutic gains” in terms of their self-confidence and self-esteem.

“It’s an opportunity for students to come together, release their stress, have fun, and create sound in the moment,” said Feher. Feher explained that drum circles and music have been used for thousands of years to foster community.

When students engage in this activity, they eventually reach a state of flow, as Feher explained. Also known as “being in the zone,” when someone reaches that stage, they are extremely focussed on what they’re doing, and are no longer thinking about their everyday stresses.

“When you are completely engaged and immersed in an activity you enjoy, you become completely engaged in the present moment, and time slips away,” said Feher.

Feher explained when one is in a state of flow with a group of people, a connection is created between all of them; from there, students become freer to try different rhythms.

No previous experience in music is required in order to participate in the activity. There is no registration and the event is completely free. The weekly drum circles will be running until April 6, 2020.


Graphic by Salomé Blain


Simply Scientific: New semester, new stress

Many students experience stress with the start of a new semester, but few know the process behind it.

With the beginning of a new semester, you might have some questions on your mind such as, “why am I already stressed after a week of class?”

Stress is common among university students, especially at the beginning of a new semester. It might be caused by increased workload, new responsibilities, and lifestyle changes, according to NYU’s website.

The Mental Health Foundation defines stress as the “body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event.” When you experience stress, your body generates stress hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. It causes a “fight or flight” response, also called acute stress response, which helps you quickly respond to dangerous situations, as stated on the Mayo Clinic.

According to Harvard Medical School, when such a situation occurs, the amygdala, a part of the brain that takes part in emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which works as a command centre.

The NIH explains this process as nerve cells linking the hypothalamus to the hippocampus, connecting the event to a past situation, as the hippocampus is the brain’s memory storage. Finally, the adrenal glands, found above the kidneys, will release adrenaline to all parts of the body so the person has enough energy to fight or flee, as stated by the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

However, this mechanism can also harm you if the situation is too stressful or can’t be controlled, as your body keeps experiencing this “fight or flight” response, which can be overwhelming. While stress is a response to a threat, anxiety is a response to stress.

According to an article in Global News, more college students in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. have high expectations of themselves and others, meaning they expect people and themselves to act in a certain way, which causes more stress.

Stressors can be external, meaning they are situations that happen to you such as life changes or unpredictable events. But they can also be internal or self-induced, which means they are thoughts that you have, such as fears, beliefs or lack of control, as explained on the Mayo Clinic. Pessimism can be an internal stressor.

The Government of Canada shared some common symptoms of stress and a few tips to prevent it. Feeling irritated, sad, guilty or restless, seeing changes in your sleep patterns, appetite or weight, having difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and losing interest in things you used to enjoy, all could be signs of stress.

To prevent stress, avoid procrastinating and don’t be afraid to make decisions, as leaving tasks for later and worrying about them will cause more stress. Let people help you if possible and keep a positive and realistic mindset.

Have a great semester!


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Self-care is sometimes more like self-preservation

It was the beginning of November, and I felt like shit.

As the autumn leaves transformed from flaming red to muddy brown, that familiar pre-winter malaise started to sink in. Each day was becoming darker and colder than the last, and rolling out of bed in the morning went from a small challenge to an overwhelming obstacle. Like some twisted tradition, my annual ‘slump’ had taken form, characterized by a growing pile of assignments, a growing pile of laundry, and a sudden decline in my physical health.

Despite all the shittiness, I was still scraping by. I handed in my assignments, even if they were late. I made sure to eat, even if it was just bowl after bowl of yogurt – I really enjoy yogurt. I took things one day at a time, clinging to the holy mantra that had carried me through my entire academic career: just finish the goddamn semester. 

But a few weeks later, just as I was about to finish the goddamn semester, an incident occurred in my personal life. I won’t go into the details because, quite frankly, that’s none of your beeswax, but I will tell you this: it wasn’t fun, and I took a hit.

You know that scene in The Lion King where Mufasa is dangling from the edge of a cliff? I can’t help but think that, if it weren’t for that asshole Scar, he could have pulled himself up—he’s a lion, for f*ck’s sake, his muscles are like cinder blocks. But life came out swinging and that beautiful bastard plummeted to his doom.

After the incident, my assignments became less and less of a priority, my pile of laundry grew even more, and I ran out of yogurt. The whole thing was like the cherry on top of the cake, except instead of a cherry it was a hand grenade and instead of a cake it was a steaming pile of garbage. A question was beginning to form in my mind: am I taking care of myself?

The answer, I learned, was pretty straightforward: no. But if I wasn’t taking care of myself, what could I do to change it? What does ‘self-care’ even mean?

To figure things out, I decided to call my OG caregivers: good ol’ mom and dad.

First, I called my dad. Here’s the thing about me and my old man – we are exactly the same. We are high stress, high anxiety people who both tend to be very hard on ourselves. Since my dad is a few years older than me, though, and presumably full of wisdom, I was curious to hear his advice.

“If you’re feeling like shit,” I asked, “What do you do to make yourself feel better?”

“I would take a break,” he said. “I would probably aimlessly browse the Internet, or I would go for a walk with no particular destination in mind.”

My mom gave me a similar answer. The pinnacle of productivity and self-preservation, she has this remarkable talent for stress management that I, unfortunately, did not inherit.

“I need to be by myself,” she told me. “Without anybody asking me for anything.”

This is true. Every day after work, without fail, my mom settles into the corner of the couch with a heat pad on her back and a book in her hands. She’ll sit in her ‘nest’ for hours until it’s time to go to bed. It’s her happy place. Meanwhile, my dad is in his office, doing essentially the same thing: blasting classical music, he’ll spend the evening combing through Internet forums about remote control helicopters or medical breakthroughs or whatever he’s into that week (he’s a man with many tastes).

After I hung up, I wondered what my happy place was, and what I could do to take a break from it all. I’m still trying to figure that out, so I’ll keep you posted.

There’s something about my parents that I really admire: no matter how hard life gets, they take care of themselves. They feed themselves, they manage their space, and they get stuff done. When my grandma died last year, I think my mom was able to stay afloat because she had set herself a good foundation – she didn’t live her life clinging to the edge of a cliff. When tragedy struck, she didn’t fall into a pit of raging wildebeests, she simply just fell.

Here’s what I’ve learned these past few weeks: there’s always gonna be a new semester coming, and if it’s not a semester, it’ll be something else – a new deadline, a new job, a new life event. Personal emergencies are always going to happen, people I love are going to get hurt, and mental and physical illnesses are always going to be part of my life. The kindest and most compassionate thing I can do for myself is to set up a good foundation.

Take care, everyone.


Photo by Laurence BD


The harsh realities of burnout culture

As I open the 47th window on my computer and prepare myself to fill this blank document with thoughts, opinions and rhetoric I hope you’ll find interesting, to my surprise, my computer shuts down.

A black screen is a daunting thing to see when you have so much to do — 12 articles, 11 soulful yet professional cover letters, 10 tests, nine unread emails and a partridge in a pear tree.

As I trudged through the snow to use a library computer to finish my work, I couldn’t help but think that sometimes I feel like my laptop.

Yes boomers — I just said I feel like my laptop, okay?

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t do well without structure, so when my system feels like it’s about to shut down, I often excuse the emerging breakdown with phrases like, “I thrive when I’m busy,” “The more time I have, the more I waste,” “I’d be bored if I did less” or the classic, “I don’t burnout.”

Listen, no one is above burnout culture. Not Oprah, Elon Musk or even that friend that seems like they are constantly balancing a million internships and projects at once. As a research professor at the University of Houston and a recent public figure, Brené Brown says, “your body keeps score, and always wins.” Brown is alluding to the fact that we need to engage with self-reflection and self-awareness in order to live our best lives, pardon the cliche.

At this point, you might think that this is just another article telling you to slow down, smell the flowers, kiss your dog, go for a run and call your mother — in which case you are absolutely right. Telling people to slow down, live mindfully and engage with their life meaningfully is not new, but at the same time should constantly be part of the conversation.

We are trained as students, as workers and as humans in general, that the only way we have a purpose in this confusing world is through being productive. This philosophy is ingrained in us to function in the cold, fast, capitalistic world we live in. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. If our economies are not getting bigger, faster, stronger, then what’s the point? It’s important that we understand this system, to combat it.

Some public figures are restructuring their philosophy to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has been advocating for the prioritization of sleep for a few years now. In an interview with National Geographic, she explained that we are currently in “a moment of transformation.”

“What stops people from prioritizing sleep is the fear that somehow they’re going to miss out, said Huffington. We have so many phrases that confirm that – “You snooze, you lose,” “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

It’s important to remember we are doing our best. If you need to ask for an extension, miss a class, postpone an interview or what have you, don’t beat yourself up. We are all struggling to grapple with showing up for ourselves, listening to our instincts while also trying to succeed. The reality is, if you are constantly pushing yourself and spreading yourself too thin, then you won’t be able to show up the way you want to in every part of your life. You’ll be tired, you won’t be present, and even if you don’t burnout right away, it will happen.

So in the name of showing up for myself and listening to my body, I’ll end this article here. Quite like my computer, I’m shutting down — or at least on sleep mode. Goodnight. 


Photo by Britanny Clarke / Graphic @sundaeghost


This is fine, I’m fine

You know the meme of a dog in a room on fire, where the speech bubble says: “This is fine”? Yeah, that’s me, I’m the dog. Also a plausible comparison is me as Ross in Friends after having too many margaritas: “I’M FINE!”

Why am I “fine,” you ask? Hi, my name is Kayla-Marie Turriciano, and I take on too many projects at once (as seen in my Twitter bio), and am definitely not in over my head.

In my first year at Concordia, I wrote about how it’s important to maintain a balance between work, school, and a social life, and how you can’t do better than your best. In my second year, I called myself out for being a hypocrite because I had completely gone against my own advice and had a terrible work-school-life balance. I was literally in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety and admitted that it was easier said than done.

Now in my third year, I have something else to add to this stream of articles about balance in life. This past year has honestly been one of the most emotionally draining. From last summer to present, I’ve barely had time off: I went from the fall semester, to winter, to a summer semester intensive, then an internship and a job, to now back in school full time while holding down three jobs. On top of that, I regularly contribute to sections within the paper other than my own.

A lot of people in my life – family, friends, peers, coworkers, basically everyone – worry that I’m going to soon suffer a burnout. They say I’m overworked, over-stressed, and am generally doing too much. Our lovely opinions editor, Youmna, regularly keeps me in check to make sure I don’t have a breakdown by spreading myself too thin. I constantly reassure her I’m doing fine – and here I am writing this article when I have two others this week on top of all my other work and assignments.

See, the thing is I actually am fine. I’ve definitely not been fine in the past, suffering mini breakdowns from being overworked and overtired, resulting in me crying at the kitchen table after someone slightly raises their voice at me.

But truly, this time, I am fine. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve mastered all this multitasking, if I’ve become numb to everything or if I’ve just peaked and reached nirvana. Maybe all the theoretical political science courses discussing Lucretius and Seneca have taken a toll on me.

Whatever it is, I just know that, while I am taking on too many projects at once, I’m actually not stressed, nor do I feel like I’m going to be crushed under the weight of everything.

I truly, finally, actually am fine and I’m not in a theoretical room that’s on fire – I’m just living my life, totally fine.

Graphic: Salomé Blain.

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