During exam time, stress levels are high. When crunch time really starts to set in, I find myself putting off studying. Even though I’ve been through four years of university, I’m still not the person who preps weeks in advance for exams. I tend to do things last minute. I work better when I’m under pressure but with this, anxiety piles up. I’ve found ways to manage stress and calm myself so I don’t go into an exam, or any difficult situation, feeling needless panic. Here are a few tips that have worked for me.
1. Take a bath and indulge
When I take a bubble bath, I also set up candles and drink tea. I focus on relaxing all the tension in my body, release wandering thoughts and focus on the moment I’m in. I do some deep breathing and just let everything go, letting my thoughts flow out.
Forget diets during this time! Have a treat or snack that you’ve been craving. I definitely have a sweet tooth and a secret Cheezie addiction. Stressing out about what you’re eating can make it hard to focus on what is really important. Taking time to focus on yourself and indulging in the little things that make you happy are key in maintaining a calm, positive mindset when studying.
3. Disconnect from social media
Us 90s kids make up the generation of social media users and sometimes I feel our countless profiles can be overwhelming. When I’m studying, I find looking at my phone or computer can distract me, wasting my time, which leaves me more stressed. Unplugging myself from technology lets me focus on what I actually need to be doing and helps me be productive (and no, my definition of productivity does not include checking Instagram…most of the time).
Exercise is definitely a key factor in successful stress management. I like to go on walks, take on hikes and hit the gym. Physical activity actually helps to improve memory and thinking skills. Not to mention, I find I sleep better after having worked out. When I’m frustrated or stressed, working out helps to relieve tension. Even if you’re not the athletic type, like myself, hiding in your room and cramming doesn’t help and can even make things worse. Exercise is key to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get your brain waves moving.
5. Jam out
Music has always been part of who I am and anytime I’m mad or upset, I go to my music. I either play my guitar or, piano or I sing or listen to playlists. Music helps me take a break and focus on me! I find classical music actually helps me focus while studying, too. Playing or listening to music releases positive endorphins and leaves you feeling happy.
Usually my room is a mess and unbearable to look at. I’ve a hard time keeping my room clean for some reason and anytime it is clean and organized, I’m more relieved and able to focus. Most people put off cleaning when they’re stressed but I use cleaning as an excuse not to study. This can distract me but I notice that when everything is extremely clean, I get back to my studies with little trouble. Maintaining a clean room sometimes distracts me from what I should be doing, but it ultimately keeps stress levels down.
7. Utilize effective study habits
Everyone has their own study habits. I, for one, usually write out my notes multiple times and keep cue cards close by. I colour-code everything and flip through cue cards to lock the information into memory. I’ve a system and that system works for me. Each time I learn something, I can put those cue-cards to the side and continue to work on the content I’m less confident with. I get to see results this way. I get to see what I DO know and that’s something that builds confidence!
8. Make a to do list
Making a list of things you need to do is helpful and once you’re done one thing you can just check it off and move on to the next. When I find the time to make lists, I’m more productive. Productivity helps relieve stress and anxiety.
These are the few things I do to manage my stress during exams. Pick a few and apply them to the stressful events in your life, whether you’re studying for an exam or working on other things. Let us know which worked best for you!