Exam season can be stressful for both parents and students. Whilst a bit of stress can be good for motivating students to complete their revision and exam preparation, it doesn’t take long for it to build up to troubling levels. Dealing with the stress can be a difficult thing, so we’ve put together five top ways to help students combat it.
1. Pace Yourself
It might feel like you’ve got a huge amount of revision ahead of you and endless amounts of information to soak up. However, by breaking it down into manageable sections you’ll find it much easier to get started which helps prevent stress from occurring in the first place. Using a revision plan to do this will help and it will give you a clear picture of everything you need to cover. Whether you have weeks, days or hours before an exam, setting goals for what you want to achieve will help to put things in perspective. For some revision tips, check out our previous blog post here.
2. Stay Healthy
Eating and drinking well during both revision and the exam season is vital to staying healthy and helping to combat stress. You wouldn’t expect a top athlete to eat take away food and fizzy drinks before a big race and the same is true for sitting exams. Hydration is key to keeping the mind focused and avoiding tension or dehydration headaches. A varied diet with plenty of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables will keep your body in peak condition. If you can, make some time for exercise – a short walk at the end of the day will help raise your heart rate and clear your head.
Make sure you’re also getting plenty of sleep. As much as staying up all night to cram before an exam feels like a great idea, the amount of information you’ll take in that close to an exam will be limited and your performance on the day could be compromised if you’re running on little to no sleep.
3. Prepare for the day
Before an exam, make sure you have a good breakfast, even if you feel too nervous to eat. Make sure you know the time and location of your exam and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Pack your bag the night before with any equipment you might need – spare pens & pencils, calculators, any set texts or reference material. It’s also worth taking a bottle of water in to the exam with you to stay hydrated and take a snack to have before the exam like some fruit and nuts or a cereal bar to boost your energy levels.
If you’re feeling really stressed, take some time out to bring your anxiety levels down. Go for a walk, meet a friend for a coffee or watch a favourite film to help yourself unwind. If these aren’t helping, try some breathing techniques. A method called Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent way of calming the nervous system to relieve tension and anxiety. Some simple steps are below:
- Find somewhere comfy and quiet to sit or lie down. Rest your left palm on your knees if sitting, or on your stomach if lying down.
- Bring your right hand up to your nose and place your thumb on your right nostril to close it. Inhale slowly through your left nostril. Then close the left nostril with your index finger. Pause briefly and then exhale slowly through the right nostril, moving your thumb to allow this.
- With the right nostril open, slowly inhale through it and then cover with your thumb. Pause at the top of your breath, and then slowly exhale through the left nostril.
- Repeat this 10 times (or for as long as you like).
This video also explains the process well.
5. Don’t bottle it up
Speaking up about stress or anxiety can be tough and it might feel like you’re the only one dealing with it. But, exam stress is very common and opening up to others can help hugely. If you’re feeling like you can’t cope with the pressure, speaking to friends, family or teachers can help put things into perspective and lead to extra support that you might need. Sharing your worries not only makes other people aware of your concerns but can provide an opportunity for them to help and offer constructive recommendations.