Overcoming exam stress
Stress is unpleasant, unhelpful and unhealthy. Unfortunately it is very common during exam season, so it’s important to be aware of stress levels and to find support should they get too high.
Fortunately there is a lot of support out there for stressed students. Whether it’s you or a family member going through this period, it’s helpful to be aware of stress-relieving techniques and to encourage them regularly.
Here are some helpful approaches for overcoming exam anxiety:
Cuddle Something Cute
Cuddling something tiny and adorable releases endorphins in your body which will relax you. That’s why several universities have opened puppy rooms and micropig rooms to relieve stress during exam season.
Research has suggested that just looking at pictures of cute things can improve concentration levels, so even if you can’t find a real-life puppy room just click on the links above or head over to Daily Squee and spend a few minutes awwwwwing at the screen.
Napping does more than just reduce stress: it also aids in problem solving and memory recall which can be extremely beneficial when revising.
While finding a bed can be a challenge during the day, a growing number of places are adopting beditation: meditating while lying down (which often leads to a micro-nap until someone pokes you). The practice is all about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings while in a state of relaxation. Doing this puts distance between you and your worries, loosening their grip on you.
Listen to Your Body
Carrying on from the point above: listen to your body. If you feel like there’s a knot in your stomach or a weight on your chest then acknowledge that. Instead of trying to ignore it, lean into that sensation. Say to yourself “I feel nervous/stressed/worried, but that’s okay.” Accept the feeling instead of fighting it and it will begin to fade. If you’re particularly stressed, focus on your breathing for a few minutes.
Revising and sitting exams burns a lot of calories so it’s important to eat. Your stomach will let you know when you’re hungry, all you need to do is listen to it. If you feel stiff: stretch. If you feel tired: sleep, don’t open another can of Red Bull.
Take a Break
Shackling yourself to your desk isn’t always the best way to revise. If you find yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over: take a break. Have a change of scenery. Go for a walk. Taking a break from something allows you to return to it with a fresh perspective.
If you’re in the exam itself when this feeling strikes: jot any notes in the margin and then turn the page. Come back to that question later.
Put Things Into Perspective
In the grand scheme of things, exams really aren’t that important and you can always re-sit them if you want to. Some people have brains that work well within the exam format; others don’t. There’s nothing wrong with being someone who finds the structure of exams difficult, and it says nothing about your intelligence.
Remind yourself of the many successful people who never even finished high school. Listen to Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen:
Talk About It
A problem shared is a problem halved, and I guarantee you’re not the only one stressing about exams. Express yourself however works best for you: talking, writing, music, art, exercise… just don’t bottle those worries up. There are a number of online communities where students can safely express themselves and support one another.
If you’re unsure where to turn, you can always talk to Meic for free. (They’d also be great people to speak to if you want to get a puppy room or some beditation classes started in your school or college, as their job is to help get your voice heard.)