Dealing with Exam Stress

exam stressEveryone gets stressed around exam time but it’s important not to let it get out of hand. A small amount of stress can be helpful in terms of motivating us to study but too much stress can stop us from performing our best. Stress symptoms include sleeplessness, poor appetite, headaches, dizziness, forgetfulness and increased irritability.

There are many ways to cope with stress:

If you recognise that you are suffering from stress it can really help to talk to someone about how you are feeling. A chat with someone who will understand the pressure you are under, like a parent, sibling or teacher, can help put things into perspective.

Try not to compare study habits with your friends. Everyone revises in a different way and it’s best to simply focus on the way that best suits you and forget about what everyone else is doing.

Making a study timetable can be a great way of making study time more productive. Instead of being faced with an overwhelming amount of work to revise, not knowing where to start, setting out clear and manageable tasks will make studying feel less daunting.

Try to eat healthily. A well fuelled brain and body will help you to study and perform better during exam time. It’s important to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit and to eat three meals a day. Have a healthy breakfast that will set you up for the day. Swap sugary cereal for a bowl of porridge for longer lasting energy.

A good sleep routine is essential when studying. Your brain cannot function at its best when it is sleep deprived. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Don’t bring your revision books to bed, give your brain a chance to switch off and get your eight hours of well deserved rest.

Exercise is a great way of coping with stress. A simple walk in the park or a run around the block will help to clear the mind and boost your energy levels. Relaxing exercises such as yoga will have the added benefit of helping you to unwind and sleep.

Simple breathing techniques can help to relax a stressed mind. Taking time out to sit and breathe in and out through the nose counting to seven each way and holding for 5 after each inhalation and exhalation, can help to calm the nervous system.

When the exam is over, steer clear of any exam ‘post-mortems’. Once an exam is done, it’s best to try and forget about it and move on.

Ultimately it is important to remember not to lose sight of life after the exams. It may feel like the end of the world if an exam doesn’t go well but there are always other routes to get you where you want to go if things don’t go to plan.

Author: Fiona McBennett