“Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences.”
A little bit of stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can motivate us to get things done so we work harder, and it helps us to knuckle down with school/uni work. However, exam stress can be next level, and it goes beyond the point of being able to cope with it. Sometimes you might feel unmotivated, forget everything you have just read over, eat bad foods and couldn’t think of anything worse than going to the gym. BUT, don’t worry, we have all been there.
I want to give you some top little tips that will hopefully reduce these feels of stress and anxiety during exams…
AVOID COMPARISONS – This is something we are all guilty of, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously, we all have the habit of seeing how much our friends know in comparison to ourselves. By asking what your friends know, you instantly compare it with what you know and automatically think you haven’t revised enough – causing more stress. STOP THIS. Everyone will learn at different rates, and describe things in different ways; this does not meant you know it any less than they do.
FUEL YOUR BRAIN AS WELL AS YOUR BODY – This is so so so important throughout revision and exams. If you are skipping meals, it will only deplete your energy levels and leave you feeling more drained than you did before. If you know you won’t want to stop and take time out to cook a nutritious lunch, prep a couple of lunches at the start of the week to give you a head start.
If you are tempted to reach for something sweet to get you through the afternoon, the excessive sugar consumption will initially give you a temporary high from the sugar-fix, but this will rapidly be followed by crashing blood sugar levels causing fatigue. If you do feel the need to snack and you are having cravings throughout the day, some healthier options include: Mixed nuts, natural yogurt, banana (and peanut butter if you’re literally addicted to nut butters like myself), veggie sticks and hummus, blueberries/raspberries/strawberries, rice cakes, dark chocolate, hard boiled eggs, apricots and dried fruit.
STAY HYDRATED – Water allows many of the chemical reactions in our bodies to take place. Therefore, the speed at which our brains can work and process all those revision notes will be negatively affected if we become dehydrated. The aim is to drink around 1.2 litres of fluid per day. Always, always have a bottle/glass of water next to you when you’re revising to sip throughout the day.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF – I know you probably feel you need to revise from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, but do NOT do this. I use to think this was the best way to go about revising, just to keep ploughing through even when my brain felt fried, but I can assure you it only increases feelings of lethargy and decreases your motivation. Having time out, for example going on a walk, taking a hot bath/shower or simply listening to some soothing music will help shut out the world for a while, therefore reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE – Nothing de-stresses a busy mind faster than getting a good sweat on in the gym; so why not build it into your timetable? Even though much of the benefits associated with exercise highlight the ‘physical’ benefits, exercise is also considered imperative for maintaining mental health. Exercise and other physical activity produces endorphins – chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. This will even improve your ability to sleep, and no one can complain about getting a good nights sleep! Exam time is physically and mentally draining, we all feel it, so it is worthwhile exercising in order to combat fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function.
I hope these tips were simple yet helpful to you!
And for people who do have exams – good luck!