Conquering the Exam Demon of Stress: Your How To Guide
It’s that time of year again. The universal period of stress for the student population. You know, when you look around your campus and there is a mutual understanding that not only is the end of the year so close, but also there is a higher chance of exposure to actual sunshine, and you can bet your life this will fall on the days where you are chained to your revision notes. Unless you somehow managed to fall into the small percentage that have already finished their degree. If this is you, please feel free to stop reading – this is a communal ground for those of us still hacking it through the last hurdles of the academic year, a ground you can no longer relate to. (We are not at all bitter, of course.)
We have all been there however, at one point or other, throughout the time of revision and thought – “Is this actually going to end, though? Like, I know people keep saying to me ‘you’re almost there!’ ‘So close!’, but is there ever going to be an actual end?” This is when you’re fifteen Red Bull’s deep, have memorised the entire wall decorations of the library, have cried maybe twice because you’ve convinced yourself you don’t know anything (like, anything at all about anything), and have considered dropping out of your degree.
Well, no one is dropping out here – we have put together our best tips around what you can do to stop this state of affairs and make revision the most pain free experience. Thank us later. YOU HAVE SO GOT THIS. (Come on team – we’ve formed an alliance now!)
1. Get your sleep.
At a time like this, your sleep is probably going to be your best weapon. Sleep has been proven to improve cognitive and memory function – arguably two of the most important factors to take into an exam. Make sure you’re hitting the 7/8 hour mark every night.
2. Find the line.
There is a lot to be said for self-discipline, so set yourself some goals. However, make sure you hit them and don’t try to over-exceed – you are guaranteed to burn out. Do your bit each day, and leave it there for the following day. Overloading your brain with information is only going to skew what you have already stored.
3. Treat yo’self.
No one ever achieved anything without motivation. As we have previously covered, the end being nigh most of the time isn’t enough – we need immediate reward. Like pizza, chocolate, anything. Once you have reached said goal, treat yourself to whatever it is you feel is going to help you unwind in the evening.
4. But… control yo’self.
The temptation is real, we know. Had a long day of revision? Ready to shove the pen in your eye? Enter: the treat yo’self you’ll pay for. Overindulging in treats such as alcohol may give a temporary high however may lead to lows. And we want to make sure the good vibes are kept peak!
5. Prioritise your mental health.
Exams are stressful, and so naturally you may feel stressed or under pressure. However, there is a difference between this and the deterioration of your mental health. Your mental health is always your strongest asset across all things in life, particularly in times of stress. Put high levels of effort in, however don’t push yourself to the point where your wellbeing is compromised.
6. Plan something exciting for after exams.
There is no better feeling than leaving an exam knowing not only that you’ve done it, but you have put your best efforts in. You are a shining star of accomplishment and everything is good in the world. (You know exactly the feeling). And how is this feeling made even better? By having something to look forward to and celebrate. We’re thinking a getaway, day out, party, whatever floats your boat. You deserve it.
7. Look after yourself.
We’re talking nutrition, exercise and general wellbeing. There is nothing more comforting than having a small tonne of chocolate next to you when you revise, however eating things of little nutritional value will not help in the long run. Make sure you get out of the house too, even just taking a short walk helps. Lead the healthiest lifestyle you can during the run up to exams and your body will thank you. And the mind always follows the body.
8. Worst case scenario?
Right okay, sometimes it does not go to plan. There is, on the flip side, that feeling of absolute doom when you leave the exam room and either you hit a blank, the paper was written by Satan, or it just overall did not turn out as expected. And we’ve all been there when we catastrophise the ending – your education is over, your life is over, and from this point onwards everything is just gonna suck. This is not the case. Remind yourself, you are only human – humans make mistakes and not all situations can go as we’d hope. Remain calm, think about what you can do (there are always re-takes!), and if you have done your best, what more could you have asked for of yourself?
When you are stressing, listen your inner voice – what are you saying to yourself? Whether you are a realist or prefer a more spiritual perspective of the world, your behaviour is a direct result of your thoughts. If you are supporting yourself and congratulating yourself, you will see how capable you are. Don’t let the haters (your own critical voice) get you down. Would you speak to a friend in the critical way you are speaking to yourself? Of course you wouldn’t. Remind yourself of who you are.
Good luck to all of you who can relate to the current state of affairs – a far from ideal situ. However, you can do it, and know you are not alone in this unfortunate part of the university year. Go shine.