Exams don’t last longer than 8-10 days usually but the stress they create can last WAY LONGER, affecting your mental and physical health negatively. So, here’s my two cents – DON’T let the pressure of exams affect your performance. Learn to manage and relieve study stress to boost your learning potential and exam results!
Read on to find out how!
- Time management FTW!
Creating a study timetable is essential. If you set a timetable a week or better, a month in advance, you will know EXACTLY what you need to cover and then you’ll have enough time to do so. But the beauty of scheduling and planning is that even if you start doing so a little late and are left with less time, you will be able to prioritise and cover the most important elements in the time you have left.
Takeaway: Plan your schedule in a way that you have some time to relax and take a break and be sure to study/revise a minimum of TWO subjects every day because if you spend all day cramming the SAME subject, you’ll get overwhelmed and very, very bored!
- Say ‘No’ to distractions
Cell phones and social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat can be a welcome break but research shows that they can make us feel even more stressed or agitated if we feel that we’re missing out on all the fun others are having. Try to completely avoid social media, even if it’s just for a couple of hours and I guarantee that your attention and focus will improve. If you don’t trust yourself, try and remove such apps and reinstall them once you’re free from exams.
Takeaway: Switch off your cellphone while studying and if that’s not enough to keep you focused, hand it to your mom! Trust me, it works!
- Breathe the stress out
Breathing techniques are one of the easiest and quickest ways to relieve stress in the body and calm the mind. Taking deliberately deep, slow breaths helps slow down the adrenaline and relaxes the nerves in the body. The heart rate slows down, muscles relax and blood pressure drops. Try five minutes of abdominal breathing (focusing on filling the air in the stomach area) or ‘5:5:5 breathing’ which means you breathe in for a count of five, hold for five seconds and then breathe out for five seconds. Stretching your muscles can also help relieve tension, increase blood circulation and improve focus.
Takeaway: As important as studying is, it is ESSENTIAL to take a break from your desk! Breathing and stretching will help you relax, sleep better and improve studying and exam performance.
- Get some fresh air
Research shows that simply being outside in the fresh air can help you remain positive, even if it’s just for five minutes. Head to your nearest green space next time you need a study break and you’ll immediately feel less anxious and more clear-headed. Take a brisk walk or a relaxing stroll or better yet, review your notes while walking!
Regular exercise can relieve stress and improve concentration and mental awareness (two things that are vital while studying). You don’t need to go all-out to relieve stress through exercise since psychologists have shown that a 10-minute walk can be as effective as 45 minutes of rigorous exercise.
Takeaway: The idea is to get some fresh air but you can do what suits you best to relax your body and mind for the next study session – whether it is a heart-pumping cardio workout or an early morning yoga session out in the garden!
- Talk to someone
Talking about things and sharing anxiety can help tons. It reduces stress levels and makes you feel less alone in your struggles. Cramming day and night alone for exams can make you anxious and the pressure can feel overwhelming. Talk to someone about what you are going through. You might find out that they are in the same boat too and as they say, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’!
Takeaway: If all the notes, lectures and reports are getting to be too much, call your favourite person and talk it out. You’ll feel much better voicing out your worries. Just don’t yap on the phone for hours on end!
- Munch and crunch
Research shows that certain snacks can help relieve stress and anxiety. But before you head to the pantry to get yourself some chips and Coke, let me tell you that consuming food and drinks high in sugar and/or caffeine will only heighten your stress. These foods make us FEEL relaxed and energised but the truth is that it’s only a quick boost followed by an even bigger slump.
Takeaway: Instead, get a bowl of nuts, a glass of milk, diced veggies, fresh juice or fruit pops to help your mind stay calm and boost your brainpower.
There…now you are fully equipped to combat exam stress! So…