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How to De-Stress before Exam Season

We all know what time is approaching and no, I don’t mean summer. EXAM SEASON! Much is said about writing essays, motivating yourself, making the most of your notes and other essential stuff for the daily life of a student. But sometimes, our best intentions and plans fall short of one key thing: how to manage all that under the pressure of an upcoming deadline, exams in this case.

During the highly stressful period of exams, we start second-guessing ourselves, over-spread our efforts, or focus too intensely on just one thing. To ace your exams, you need self-control and peace of mind just as much as you need to prepare the right amount of material in sufficient depth. In this blog, we’re sharing some techniques to help you stay calm, focused, and ready to tackle those tests like a pro.

Create a Study Schedule:

Large assignments, big books and long reading lists can be overwhelming when preparing for your exams. What I have found useful in my 2 years of university is breaking the reading down into smaller, more achievable sets. For example, creating flashcards for each topic will give you a visual representation of the work you need to complete. This method will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each task.

Two girls sitting on a sofa with there laptops open.
Before tackling exams, create a schedule of the exam dates and times you want to revise.

Practice Deep Breathing:

Take a few moments each day to practice deep breathing exercises. Close your eyes, inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Deep breathing can help calm your nervous system and promote relaxation. I love doing this before my exams or any revision I have to complete because it reduces any anxiety I may have before the test and helps me remember more rather than stressing and making mistakes.

Get Moving:

Incorporate physical activity into your routine to help relieve stress and boost your mood. Whether it’s going for a walk, practicing yoga, or hitting the gym, find activities that you enjoy and make time for them regularly. I can assure you stepping outside of the library, or your room will do you the world of good. Sometimes being in nature can help you relax way more than you think. And when you get back to studying, your mind and body feel alive.

A woman walking through the park
Going on walks or doing exercise will open your mind to help you retain focus as you study for the exams.

Take Breaks:

As a university student, everything can seem super-fast paced, so you need to take a break and re-evaluate things. Taking regular breaks is crucial for maintaining focus and productivity. It is easy to get very tired at university as there are a lot of extra curricular activities as well as late-night parties. When preparing for your exams, use techniques like focusing for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. It’s a great way to stay focused and engaged.

Ditch the books (Temporarily):

Take a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness exercises and develop a sense of calm and clarity. Never underestimate the importance of self-care. I always make sure that I do things that help me relax such as skincare or putting on a movie to watch. What we can all do as university students is prioritise our physical and mental health. If you make time for yourself you will retain the information way more.

Stay Connected:

It’s very easy to isolate yourself during exam season, but you are not alone. Reach out to friends, family, or classmates for support and encouragement. Sometimes, just talking about your worries can help ease stress. Remember that you are still at university and it’s okay to have some down time during the exam period.

Two women talking to each other
You don’t have to experience this alone. If you don’t like revising by yourself, get together with a small group of friends a test each other on what you know about the content.

Fuel Your Body:

I know when it’s exam season for me, I eat quick easy meals which probably don’t have a lot of nutritional value. Eating nutritious meals and snacks will nourish your body and brain. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar, which can lead to energy crashes and increased anxiety. Instead, make an effort to have balanced meals that are rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

A picture of a laptop open with food next to it.
Buying quick meals because you would rather choose sleep is tempting however, eating well will help you from the inside out.

Get Enough Sleep:

Prioritise sleep and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night especially if you have an exam the next day. If you feel you work better at night and it is easier to focus, then make sure you get enough sleep in the morning and don’t wake up early. On the other side, if you are a morning person get up early but go to bed early and have enough sleep. All-nighter after an all-nighter, coffee after coffee will not benefit you in the long run but rather result in your lack of focus when you need it most. Chugging caffeine and energy drinks will mess with your sleep cycle in the long run, don’t do it!

Visualise Success:

Take a moment to visualise yourself succeeding in your exams. Imagine yourself feeling confident, focused, and capable as you tackle each question with ease. Positive visualization can help boost your confidence and motivation. I always refer back to the saying ‘fake it till you make it’. I can assure you that if you don’t believe you will do well in your exams you won’t. So, believe you can, and you will.

By incorporating these stress-relief strategies into your exam preparation routine, you’ll be better equipped to manage your stress levels and perform your best when it counts. Be kind to yourself during exam season. Also, it’s okay to feel stressed or overwhelmed at times. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your efforts, accepting imperfections, and treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember, exams are just one part of your academic journey, and your well-being always comes first. You’ve got this!


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