Lessons on Stress Management at an Art and Design School

By OCAD University Modified on April 23, 2019

Rui Kang is a 3rd year illustration student at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. Here are some of her takeaways on how to handle stress.

Rui Kang, Jogging Forest, March, 2019

Rui Kang is a 4th year Illustration student at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. Here are some of her takeaways on how to handle stress.

Lesson #1: Talking to your instructors can help... a lot
In my second year, I faced issues with moving that made it hard for me to complete my homework. So, I approached my graphic design instructor and he gave me an extension. I also told my core class instructor. I was so afraid to come to class with nothing to show, but to my surprise he was very understanding and gave me advice on how to improve my illustrations. This helped a lot in improving my grade. In my third year during the first semester, I again had nothing to show to one of my professors because I was so overwhelmed. Again, to my surprise, this instructor told me go home, sleep on it and gave me the opportunity to feel refreshed and finish the assignment at a later time. In all instances, I felt so much better, grateful and relieved. Do not feel shy about talking to your instructors! They are here to help.

Lesson #2 Give yourself a break
I usually work on Saturdays teaching kids at a studio. Most of the time, I feel stressed out on Friday nights, and I am especially afraid of the weekends because I need to get up early and travel three hours back and forth to work. Thus, I rarely have time to do my homework and often my assignments are due Monday mornings. This completely stresses me out and I frequently lose sleep on Sunday nights. Because of this, my artwork is often negatively affected. Therefore it's clear: I need breaks from time to time. I make an effort to take time off work when needed. Fortunately for me, my manager at work is understanding and my work hours are flexible. The lesson here is: do not be afraid of stress. Listen to your body and give yourself a break when needed. Go for a walk and get some fresh air outside, mingle with your friends, put aside your school work and do something that could help you feel joyful and recharged.

Lesson #3 Take advantage of resources at school
OCAD University has excellent research support for students. For example, the Peer Mentorship program will help pair you up with peer mentors or mentees, most often from your program, to help your transition easier and to make friends more easily. The Writing and Learning Centre (WLC) is another great resource. You can book apportionments online or just drop in to talk about your homework assignments. The WLC is a great place for sparking inspiration and confidence after meeting with any one of the amazing tutors. They also offer very useful workshops such as time management, reading tips and study groups for history classes to help you memorize information more efficiently. Also, be sure to check out the Health and Wellness Centre (HWC). Oftentimes, students have personal struggles too. Counsellors are available to speak to you and all sessions are kept confidential. In addition to completing your assignments, it's important to remember that your mental health matters too.

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