Exams are stressful. Everybody feels pressure and stress during exam season, whether that is the stress of sitting the actual exam, worry about revision, and even concern over how well you might have done after the exam itself. Now, a small amount of stress can be a good thing as it can motivate you to get on with your studies, but too much stress can stop you being able to perform at your best, or even make you unwell!
The symptoms of stress can make themselves known in a variety of ways, including difficulty sleeping or waking up in the morning, feeling tired all the time, being forgetful, physical aches and pains, loss of appetite, lack of interest in activities, anxiety, feeling irritable, an increased heart rate, headaches or migraines, blurred vision, and dizziness.
While some of these symptoms may be explained away, if you notice you have been suffering from three or more of them for a few weeks you may need to get some help managing your stress levels. Dealing with stress may mean making sure you revise properly, or it may mean having to deal with anxiety over the actual exam.
That said, you can help manage your exam stress and hopefully perform better too by using the following tips:
- Take A Break
Learn to recognise when you are feeling stressed out, and take a break. Just a few minutes of calm could be enough to lower your stress levels. You might also want to talk with someone else who can help put your stress into perspective.
- No Comparing!
Don’t be tempted to compare your progress to your friends. Your friend may claim that they have re-read that text book 9 times, or alternatively they may claim to have done no revision at all. Chances are they aren’t exactly telling the truth. Come up with your own exam preparation plan, including a revision timetable, and stick to it. If you know you are working there is no need to worry about what others are (or aren’t) supposed to be doing. Get some advice on exam preparation and use it so you know you are doing all you can.
- Sort Your Diet Out
Make sure you eat healthily at exam time. That means making sure you get all the right nutrients you need as well as having breakfast each day. You will only work as well as the fuel you put in allows you to, so follow the right advice for healthy eating.
- Go To Bed
It is also important that you get enough sleep. Make sure you allow yourself time to wind down after any revising and before you go to bed. Everybody needs different amounts of sleep at different times, so make sure you get what you need so that your brain can do its thing and process all of that new information.
- Get Some Exercise
Physical exercise is great for reducing stress, so make it a part of your revision schedule.
Take a few deep breaths if you feel you are getting stressed. Breathing in through your nose as you count to five and out for through your mouth (again for a count of five) a few times will calm you down. Quick shallow breaths (hyperventilating) can trigger a panic, so control your breathing and control your nerves. Useful before and during the exam itself!
- Avoid The Post-Mortem
What’s done is done, so avoid getting involved in any post-exam discussions about how well you got on, or what answers you put to certain questions. It doesn’t matter if you got something right or wrong, as there is nothing you can do to change it now. Going over things after the exam will only stress you out, so put it behind you and move on.
- Keep Things In Perspective
It is always worth keeping things in perspective at exam time. Life goes on after exams, so while they may seem stressful now, you will get through them. You might want to think of them as a little test, just to see what you know. Reframing your exams in your mind like this can stop them from seeming so overwhelmingly important. Sure, you want to do well, but they are not the be-all and end-all of your life.