For most students the exam period is among you and it’s likely that you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Over a short period of time stress can aid attention and concentration hence why we think feeling stressed helps get work done. In the long-term however the effect is not so positive and actually counterproductive. In fact as stress accumulates, which is likely to be the case over the exam period, your attention and concentration ability also reduces…the last thing you need right now! The following are some tips that can help with managing exam stress over this period:
Firstly it is important that you learn to recognise when you’re starting to stress out during studying. A tell tale sign is when your finding it increasingly difficult to remain focused on task and thoughts just seem to race.
Walk away… (For a moment anyway) whether it’s to make a sandwich or a hot drink. Taking frequent momentary breaks is crucial to re-energise and distract your mind from the activity that was causing it stress.
Incorporate regular physical exercise to your daily routine… 30 minutes should suffice. Whether it’s a walk with a friend or family member or even the dog (I’m sure they’ll love it).
Do not compromise sleep for studying longer hours…make sure you get enough sleep.
Eat well. Don’t skip meals and ensure your eating regularly.
Keep yourself hydrated to avoid tension headaches.
Deep breathes for just five minutes particularly when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed in the moment. A useful tip to remember when your doing deep breathing is to breathe in through the nose count 5 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and then breathe out through the mouth for another 5 seconds (5…2…5).
Devise a study plan but be sure to remain balanced and incorporate time for enjoyment and connecting with others. When you’re studying I understand it’s difficult to spend hours and hours away from the desk but even if you set time aside to watch a movie with a sibling or mum and dad. Or maybe you’ve studied really hard during the week and can step away from the desk on the Saturday or Sunday to catch up with friends.
Study with others. Firstly this enables you to get out of your usual study environment and secondly if your not as strong in certain areas you can always ask for the help of someone who is and vice versa.
Most importantly though… don’t loose sight of the bigger picture. The exam period may be intense but it wont last forever and there is a life to be lived after exams!
This article has been prepared by Melanie Guerreiro, one of Psychology on Parade’s Clinical Psychologists. Melanie is available for appointments at Psychology on Parade on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.