Exam Stress Busters

It is no secret that exams always arrive with a companion: stress. 

Expectations, whether personal, parental or teacher / tutor, and the realisation – in most cases – that time could have been spent better all add to the pressure felt by students as exam day looms ever closer.

If you feel no stress, then that isn’t a good sign at all because it means that doing well in your exams isn’t important to you.  So, after spending the past 10+ years in education, it is reasonable to assume that you do want to do well in your exams and that they are important to you.

However, being over stressed isn’t good for you either and can actually lead to poor performance…which has its own long term health and career implications.

It is important, therefore, to de-stress and to turn up for your exams in the best possible frame of mind and attitude.  Yusra Training and Therapy have worked with thousands of students in the past 10 years and have helped them to be confident and ready for their exams by using simple and effective techniques in the lead up to exams.

Whether you’re feeling stressed out just revising, or are conscious of the fear you feel about your upcoming exams, these tips will certainly help you to turn your ‘bad’ stress into ‘good’ stress.

Use them to stay calm and pass those exams!

First, because stress only exists in the future and never in the present moment, become fully aware of your ‘present moment’:

  1. Pause what you are doing for a moment and take three deep breaths (in through your nose, all the way to your diaphragm, hold for 3, then exhale slowly through your mouth and hold empty for 3, and repeat) to help bring you into the present moment.
  2. Look around you, and notice three things and name them to yourself under your breath.
  3. Next, become aware of the sounds around you.  Notice them and name three things that you can hear right now.
  4. Now, bring your focus to your body, and silently name three sensations that you’re experiencing right now (relaxation, warmth, peace etc.)
  5. Finally, turn your attention to smell and taste.  What smells can you smell and what tastes do you have in your mouth?
  6. And to end, repeat the breathing exercise in 1. above. 

That will leave you in a much more relaxed yet alert frame of mind – the perfect recipe for revving up your revision or excelling in those exams. 

On a more general level, learn to control your stress by following these tips:

1. Get a Decent Amount of Sleep

You should get at least 7 – 9 hours of quality sleep, even if it is in 2 lots of 3 – 4 hours each.  You’re kidding yourself if you think you can get away with less as the lack of sleep will only make you more lethargic and reduce your level of concentration.

2. Take Small, Regular Breaks

Studying for stretched hours without taking any breaks may lower your retention power and make you more stressed. It’s scientifically proven that shorter, focussed periods of study (e.g. three sessions of 1.5 – 2 hours duration with a 10 minute break halfway through) will help you to achieve more and keep focussed for longer.

3. Develop a Revision Timetable

If you have a timetable for your lessons and lectures, then why not have one for your revision?  Work out how many days left to your exams, and then based on how many exams you have, divide the number of days equally by the number of subjects. Drill down further and split the subject days into specific topics.  The more focussed you are, the better your quality of revision will be.

5. Eat Well and Keep Hydrated

Unless you’re well fed and well hydrated, you will not function at your optimum level.  Be careful to avoid greasy of fried foods and sweet and fizzy drinks as they will give you a quick high, and a quicker downer.  Stick to plenty of plain water, fresh fruit and vegetables, and slow energy release foods such as porridge and pasta. 

6. Exercise to Release Stress

If you’re not into exercise, a simple brisk walk is a fantastic way of getting your juices flowing again.  Exercise reinvigorates your body and helps trigger natural processes that give you the ‘feel-good’ factor.

7. Relax!

It’s important to have a balanced approach to everything so take time out to enjoy yourself, doing the things you like to do such as going for a (healthy) meal, watching a movie or just listening to some music.  Chill out…but don’t freeze!

8. Be Positive

Many times we feel stress because we worry about things that we construct in our own minds!  Start and keep a journal in which you record your successes and compliments that others have given you.  That way, when you start to self-criticise, you can pick up your journal and remind yourself just how awesome you are. 

9. Stay Interested

Be self-aware!  When you notice you’re beginning to flag, stop!  Go and do something else, or study another subject that’s more interesting to you.  Then come back and continue when you’re refreshed and recharged.

10. Have Targets

One of the main reasons for stress is the feeling of overwhelm.  Avoid this by setting yourself stretching and realistic targets for how much you’d like to revise in a session / day / week and link it to your revision timetable so you’ll know when to expect to have finished your topic or subject revision.  When you feel in control, it is impossible to also be stressed!

If you adopt and follow these simple and effective tips, you might need to be reminded of the meaning of stress!  You’ll be fresh, ready and able to stay calm and pass those exams!