It’s normal to be nervous about exams, but if you let stress get the better of you, it can actually cloud your mind and stop you from doing your best. Becoming overly stressed or anxious can affect your memory, interfere with your sleeping patterns, mess with your appetite and negatively influence your health. Use these 10 tips and tricks to manage your stress so that it doesn’t get out of hand as exams draw near:
Be positive. If you’ve worked hard throughout the year and done your best to prepare, there’s no need to worry excessively. It’s not like stressing is going to help you to perform better in the exam. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, actively interrupt yourself with positive ones, like “I’ve done this before and I can do it again,” or “life will be worth living regardless of this exam”.
Keep things in perspective. In 10 years’ time, you probably won’t even remember this exam. Think about all the good things in your life, whether it’s your family and friends or how much you’ve already achieved, and remind yourself that this exam will soon be over.
Understand that you are not perfect. Of course you want to get top marks, but be realistic. Remember that you can only do your best and that we all have areas where we struggle.
Be proactive. If you don’t understand a section of the work, take steps to change that. Find a tutor, ask your teacher or lecturer for help, or get a friend who understands the work very well to help you with it.
Do things that de-stress you. Listen to upbeat music, go for a walk, enjoy a 15-minute power nap or take a little time out to spend with your friends.
Take deep breaths. Seriously. Panic is often triggered by hyperventilation, abnormally fast breathing that can also make you dizzy. Breathing deeply on purpose is an effective way of physically telling your body to relax. It’s been scientifically proven that breathing deeply positively affects the heart, the brain, digestion and the immune system.
Plan your study time properly. If you leave your studying too late, you’re setting yourself up to stress. Plan your study sessions ahead of time and keep them to about 50 minutes long, then take a five or 10 minute break. Your brain can’t manage peak concentration for hours on end without a short break to rest and recover.
Eat healthily and exercise. Yes, you’ve heard it before. Because it’s true! Taking care of your body is the best way to help your brain function well. Steer clear of too much caffeine. Get active, even when you don’t feel like it. It honestly boosts your energy and helps you to focus better, even if it’s just 10 minutes of dancing to your favorite music in your room.
Get enough sleep. This is especially important the night before an exam. You may think that staying up and cramming is the best option, but you are more likely to remember what you’ve studied and to do well in your exam if you are refreshed and awake after a good night’s sleep.
Talk to someone. If you are really struggling with stress or feeling depressed, the worst thing you can do is keep it all bottled up inside of you. Speak to someone you can trust, whether it’s a family member or a school or campus counselor.