I want you all to take a deep breath, let it fill your abdomen and hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and exhale. Now repeat this another two times. That’s right the end of semester is approaching which can only mean one thing, assessment due dates are looming and exam preparation is upon us. If you are one of the few students who this doesn’t worry, who feels like they have it all under control then stop reading this and head over to my office so you can share your secrets with me and I can pass them along to the rest of the students. For the rest of you, you’re not alone. In fact you’re in the majority.
Exam stress or anxiety is a real thing, it’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about something which is difficult or important to you. In some cases it can be a good thing. The stress you feel allows for the release of Adrenalin which can act as a motivator to help you prepare for the exams and get through the end of semester. If this is you, you probably already take pause when you feel the stress and reflect on all your options and make a decision about what to do.
For some people the feelings stick around and build leading to distress , fatigue, lack of concentration and a feeling of hopelessness, all of which are in direct opposition to preparing for the exam period. If this is you then there are a few tips below you might want to check out:
- Try and get some exercise during the preparation and right before an exam. Research has shown that exercise stimulates the areas of the brain that we need for learning and recall.
- Make sure you don’t focus entirely on study, still try to stay connected with friends and family, take regular breaks to engage in social and/or relaxing activities.
- Set up a good study routine by setting goals and rewarding yourself for the small and large accomplishments.
- Make sure you eat regularly and from all the food groups. Try and avoid foods high in fat and sugar, they may seem like the quick and easy options but they won’t give you the long lasting energy to keep feeding the brain.
- Get some sleep!
- Limit the distractions around you that will lead to procrastination.
- If you’re frustrated, struggling or feeling lost and hopeless then find someone to talk to about it, like a friend, family member or a counsellor and let it out.
- Make a list of positive thoughts of success and accomplishment to help encourage you on the journey and limit the negative thoughts.
It’s not always possible to stay focused on the positives no matter how hard you try. Niggling thoughts of failure and doom can stick around. If this is you then you may want to check out my previous post on what to do next.