How to best cope with stress coming up to exams

Tracey Wade.

Tracey Wade.

A huge part of academic life for students is exams, and with them comes stress and the desire to do well. Students react in a number of ways when they are stressed – they become anxious, lack sleep (or sleep too much ), they can become nervous, lose their appetite, and have difficulty concentrating. In order for every student to work to their full potential for the best outcomes, it is essential that exam stress is managed appropriately. Let’s look at a few strategies that may help as the exams approach.

Plan ahead

From now on, it is a good idea to do a weekly revision plan. This serves two purposes.

1. It provides time for revision and time for you to take a break without feeling guilty.

2. You won’t be concentrating on revising those few favourite subjects. With a revision plan all of your subjects get a look-in and so you won’t leave out any subject. Always add in a slot on your plan for project work or that one subject that needs a little bit more attention.

Always remember, if the revision plan does not work out after the first week, it just needs to be tweaked. Look at the days that went well and include them the next week, and refine the “not so good days”. Maybe you were revising French, Irish and English on the same day, which is a heavy load.

Healthy lifestyle

It is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle during exams. Always drink plenty of water and exercise every day. When taking a break from studying, open a window to let air circulate around the room. Snack on fruit or nuts instead of chocolate, and join your family for dinner so you do not feel isolated. Get plenty of sleep. Your brain needs a rest too. As you take care of your physical and emotional health, stress will become more manageable.

Meditation and breathing techniques

Any form of relaxation has a positive effect on the mind and body. Taking part in a yoga class or listening to a meditation is a great way to clear the mind and regain your focus for exams. The Headspace app is an amazing tool to have on your mobile phone, and you can listen to short guided meditations at the click of a button.

The Box Breathing Method is also a good exercise to do.

1. Breath in and hold for four seconds.

2. Breath out for four seconds.

3. Breath in for four seconds.

4. Breath out for four seconds.

As you are breathing in and out, draw a square box with your finger - hence the name Box Breathing Method.

Finally, if the nerves have totally taken over and you feel panicked, try the following. You can do this with a friend as well if they are feeling anxious and nervous.

5-4-3-2-1 Method

Look around.

Name 5 things you can see, 4 sounds that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing that you can taste.

This method will help to alleviate anxiety and bring you back to the present time. Always remember that you are in control and that these feelings will pass.

In conclusion, conquering exams requires planning, self-care and seeking support. If you are feeling particularly anxious always talk to a parent, teacher or friend. Please do not hold it in as help is always available. By managing your stress, you will be able to approach the exams with a healthier and more positive attitude.


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