6 ways to reduce exam stress
Share this article:
RESEARCH shows high levels of exam stress can interfere with attention and reduce working memory, leading to lower performance. Early experiences of anxiety and stress can also set a precedent for mental health problems in adulthood. But how we see stress can make a difference to the way it affects us.
Exam stress can be overwhelming and exhausting. It’s important to manage this stress and find coping strategies that work for you in order to eliminate the risk of burn-out.
Here are some handy tips that could help:
1. Take regular breaks. Even the most intense exam timetables should allow a little time for study breaks. These can take the form of 20-minute breaks during the course of your revision days, and should also include longer activities that you can look forward to and use as a motivating reward.
Do something that you like doing in your spare time and that will take your mind off exams. Spending a little time away from the books will leave you feeling more refreshed and relaxed the next time you revise.
2. Exercise and get outdoors. Adding a bit of exercise to your day will do you a world of good both physically and mentally. Go out for a run or even do some stretches in the comfort of your home. Besides keeping you healthy, exercise is known to boost your mood and can help to make you more productive while revising. Remember to abide by lockdown regulations when going out to exercise.
3. Limit caffeine. Caffeine and energy drinks can give you a short lift. But they’re not good for you in the long term. They can make you feel sick and can interfere with your sleep and your ability to concentrate. You will study better with regular breaks and a decent amount of sleep.
4. Don’t (always) listen to others. While it is helpful to discuss topics with fellow students and often to revise together, try not to compare other peoples’ revision to your own. Chances are you’re doing just fine, and listening to other people talk about what they’ve learnt will only stress you out and may make you feel like you aren’t progressing as well as them. Also, if they are stressed this can rub off onto you and you don’t need that.
5. Speak to someone. If the stress gets to a point where it is overwhelming, and is affecting your day-to-day life, speak to someone about it. Your university or school should have a service where you can speak to people about your concerns, and will be able to offer more advice on how to manage it. If that seems like too big a step, open up to a family member or a friend about the pressure you feel. You’ll be amazed to know that you aren’t alone in feeling like this.
6. Look after yourself. It’s easy to let exams get on top of you and to forget to look after yourself. If possible, try to get a good night’s sleep every night. It’s a good time to make an effort to eat healthily, making sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.