Erick Gonzalez (BA ’18) remembers a time when he was completely overwhelmed.
During the early portion of his university career, the Master of Public Health student felt he could only focus on what was going wrong in his studies and those emotions at times seemed all-consuming.
However, thanks to some helpful strategies, Gonzalez has found a way to break through the ceiling of academic worries he felt was hanging over him and is now helping others to do the same.
On Friday, March 22, Gonzalez joined Brock University Counsellor George Nicolaidi and fellow student Andrea Sacco to share strategies about how to manage exam stress with a first-year Geography class.
Along with breathing exercises and appropriate study techniques, Gonzalez also spoke to the group about not allowing negative thoughts to creep in and create unfounded stress.
“They need to know the catastrophes they imagine are often just their own negative appraisals of a worst-case scenario,” he said. “Being prepared mentally is really important, and a lot of the strategies that were discussed, including organization and maintaining a positive mindset throughout, can help students to more easily take hold of any negative thoughts and release them.”
With similar presentations taking place in select classes across the University, and written materials available at all Student Wellness and Accessibility Services locations, Nicolaidi hopes students will take a proactive approach towards managing their exam stress just as Gonzalez did.
“Through different styles of learning, we want to connect with more people and help them to realize they are not alone,” he said. “Exam stress is a very common issue, but with appropriate techniques and study habits, students can manage their bodies and minds to better control that anxiety.”
Having learned to manage his own test anxiety, Gonzalez is also now working as a peer health educator in the Student Health and Wellness Hub (TH 134), and has used the lessons he has learned to help others in a variety of situations.
“Recently, I was in the library and I noticed someone who looked upset,” he said. “They told me they were extremely stressed about a test and I was able to share about my own experiences and give some advice that seemed to help.”
Though he wishes he could meet with every student, Gonzalez hopes that anyone in need will come to see him or his colleagues in the Hub, book a time to speak with Nicolaidi in the From Intention to Action (FITA) program or another counsellor in Personal Counselling Services, or pick up some of the written materials that are available.
“We are here to help students let go of their negative thoughts, focus on the positive aspects of themselves and plan in advance for what they can do to overcome obstacles,” he said.