10 effective and easy ways to deal with exam stress
If you feel like you (or someone you know) may be struggling while preparing for tests, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
It’s that time of the year again when, one by one, students start holing themselves up to prepare for their upcoming exams, whether it’s the dreaded 12th standard boards or the highly-competitive entrance exams. Some of them pull all-nighters, others forget to eat - but one thing is common to all students, and that is feeling stressed. Some may cope with it just fine, letting the stress provide them with a push to work harder while others may struggle with it constantly, feeling more and more overwhelmed with every passing day. The pressure to perform well from teachers, family members and even tutors can be exhausting and one can suffer from anxiety or depression as a result. This is counter-productive as, during exam time, you need your mind (as well as your body) to be the healthiest it has ever been and at the top of its game.
Over the last few years, there has been much discussion on the importance we place on examinations as a society - and we’ve come to recognise that it can create a very unhealthy environment. If you feel like you (or someone you know) may be struggling while preparing for tests, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
1. Take a break
You have limited time and a seemingly infinite syllabus. But pushing yourself beyond exhaustion won’t help you retain information. Take a break when you feel stressed and get out of your studying space for a few minutes. Take a short walk, get some fresh air and sunlight or turn on some music and maybe even sing along. All of these activities are known to reduce stress, and indulging in them for 10 minutes a day could help your mind stay healthy.
Given the number of distractions we have in our lives, it can get tough to focus on studying for long periods. When this happens to you and you feel restless or anxious, turn to meditation. It can be with the help of an app or even just five minutes of closing your eyes and sorting your thoughts - whatever works for you.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
Skipping meals may give you an extra 20 minutes in the day but it’ll cost you a lot more in terms of concentration. This could ultimately cause a spike in your stress levels. Make sure you have a healthy and nutritious breakfast for an energetic start to your day and a lighter dinner so you don’t feel tired and sleepy right after. Make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of all vitamins and minerals.
4. Make a time table
Time management can make all the difference. If you plan ahead, allocate times for all daily activities, make a priority list of which topics to study when and for how long, you’ll feel a lot more in control of your life. A study shows that students who used time management skills had less exam-related anxiety.
5. A good night’s sleep
You can’t study all night and then expect to be in good shape the next day - that’s just not how the human body functions. Inadequate sleep, even just one night, will affect your abilities and stress levels. Make sure you get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day.
6. Get some exercise in
We’re sure you already know the amazing benefits of exercise. One of them is that it also helps reduce stress. If that’s not enough, being physically fit during your exams will also prove to be beneficial - your body won’t hurt as much from sitting for long hours, and you won’t fall sick easily.
7. Identify triggers
Sometimes stress is constant. Other times, it comes and goes. During the latter, there are usually some triggers that make your stress levels spike. Identifying them and reducing your exposure to them can prove to be helpful. If it’s a friend who constantly judges your progress, checking social media apps or even certain foods - try to cut these out of your life for good, or at least until your exams are over.
8. Experiment with fun techniques
Studying from a textbook day after day can get boring and monotonous. It’s not surprising that it can lead to undue stress. Well, the easy fix is to try new techniques like making flashcards or forming a study group from time to time. This will promote learning, re-energise your mind and automatically help you deal with stress.
9. Don’t self-bully
There will always be people around you who will try to put pressure on you. But nothing can be worse than the pressure we put on ourselves. There are many negative feelings associated with unrealistic expectations - you end up feeling like a failure and constantly criticize yourself. This negativity can end up causing a lot of harm - not just now but also in the long run. Try encouraging yourself instead, celebrate the small victories and be your own cheerleader.
10. Get help
If you’ve tried to manage your stress yourself but nothing is working, reach out for help. Talk about what you’re feeling with your parents, an older sibling or even a teacher you trust. Be open. Ask for their help to reach out to a medical professional if needed.
For more information, read our article on Stress: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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