Exam time is always a stressful period for any student, regardless if you’re in your first year or your final one. It takes a very lucky person to be able to handle such an experience without some sort of struggle to deal with the pressure they feel under. It’s a strange thing to feel positive about, but we can all at least try and take comfort in the fact we’re all in the same boat. So how do we even begin to cope with such a pressure I hear you ask? Well it’s a fair one to ask.
Begin by recognising the signs. It may sound silly but many of the symptoms of stress can easily be attributed to other illnesses, especially during the winter period where illnesses like they flu are at their height. Common signs of stress are the following:
· Difficulty getting to sleep or difficulty waking up in the morning
· Constant tiredness
· Unexplained aches and pains
· Poor appetite
· Loss of interest in activities
· Increased anxiety and irritability
· Increased heart rate
· Blurred vision
Once you’ve identified the symptoms we can then start looking at ways to fix the situations. One of the easiest ways to do this is often to separate yourself from many of your friends doing the same models. Everyone works at their own pace and comparing yourself to the progress of your friends often increases the pressure you put on yourself.
First off make a list of everything you need to do before your exam (for example re-writing your notes, looking up extra information on a particular subject etc.). By having these prioritised in front of you it will make it much easier for you to plan your time effectively. Write down your exam times and work back from there. Ask yourself how many hours you want to spend on each subject and how you can space these out in an effective study plan.
Another key way to maintain your health during the exam period is to increase the nutrients received by the body. This means a sharper focus must be put on eating healthier which can be difficult, especially on all night cram sessions. But swapping the quick-fix sugar rushes received by chocolate or sweets for the slower realising sugar in fruit will mean you can keep your energy up for longer without suffering the dreaded ‘sugar crash’ which can hinder your study progress.
Make sure you get enough sleep no matter how much work you feel you need to do that evening, this is especially important on the night before the exam. It’s often tempting to stay up all night and do as much last minute craming as possible, but research shows that students who sleep well the night before an exam perform better over-all than those who stay awake. If you’re having trouble falling asleep try taking a hot bath before bed, drinking a warm milk based drink (such as a hot chocolate) and doing whatever relaxes you the most be this reading or watching television. The information you’ve studied won’t disappear if you turn away from the textbooks for a while.
An easy way of keeping your stress levels down is to exercise. Exercising releases chemical called endorphins into your blood stream which stimulate the part of the brain that creates the feeling of happiness. The more endorphins you have in your bloodstream the easier it will be for you to relax when your study session is over. During the winter exam period it’s also easy to avoid fresh air as we spend hours indoors with our notes (or doing everything under the sun but), going for walks outside can be beneficial to your brains ability to focus on your work when you get back. Test carried out by psychologists show that humans can only truly concentrate on one subject for a period of about 45 minutes before they get distracted, so it’s also important that you take regular breaks away from your works.
If you find that work gets too much make sure you talk to someone. This can be a friend, your personal tutors, your parents or if you’re still at a loss for someone to talk to because it’s 4 am and everyone’s asleep Bangor Nightline is available between 8pm – 8am just call 01248 383880
Make sure you take the time off to treat yourself. Giving yourself for your hard work reinforces the brain to associate hard work with pleasure. Try to avoid using these treats as bribes to persuade yourself to do the work rather than rewards for completing a particular hard task.
However no matter how you tackle the exam stress, remember one important detail. They are only around for a very brief period, and come the end of January you can have days off to enjoy yourself before the second semester begins.