Combatting Exam Stress

During the end of the semester, students become highly stressed and tend to feel an extreme amount of pressure. This is typically because deadlines for assignments and exams all seem to occur around the same time. Cramming for exams or completing assignments close to their deadlines is prominent in university and college settings. Stress caused by students putting an abundance of pressure on themselves, or just poor time management skills, can negatively impact their health through the adverse effects that too much stress can have. It is crucial for us to know how to manage these feelings of stress and take care of ourselves.

Here are six tips for dealing with stress:

  1. 1. Get enough sleep

    Ensuring that you get a sufficient amount of sleep is important for multiple reasons. Most importantly, during sleep, the body repairs and heals itself. Specifically, the brain organizes information that has been acquired throughout the day and sleep helps to consolidate memories. In addition to the cognitive and health benefits of getting enough sleep, it also improves or stabilizes your mood. Not getting enough sleep can lead to memory impairment, irritability or limited cognitive abilities for the day.

  2. 2. Eat healthy, regularly, and at least three times a day

    A balanced diet is beneficial for life in general, because providing your body with the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive is essential to our wellbeing. During a stressful time, it is common to either overeat or undereat, and both can have a negative impact. Undereating can be due to having a loss of appetite or just not prioritizing a time to eat. Overeating can be due to attempts to manage stress or as an avoidance strategy. Either way, being mindful of what we eat and how much we eat during this stressful time can assist in combating stress.

  3. 3. Take control and organize your priorities

    Tracking work that still needs to be done is important for feeling organized and in control of the situation. Using a calendar can be beneficial to keep track of due dates, exam times and allotting time to do the work. Organizing study time will help to effectively manage time and feel confident that you are progressing. It’s also important to schedule time for yourself to just be. This leads to the fourth tip…

  4. 4. Prioritize self-care

    Self-care can take many forms, such as having a bath, cuddling with pets or close loved ones, and various other relaxation techniques. The power of an experience that is solely dedicated to positively influencing wellbeing is incredibly healing against the negative consequences that stress can cause on one’s mind and body. Physical activity is another way to take care of yourself. It’s beneficial for the body to be active and moving, and it also releases endorphins in the brain which have an effect on one’s mentality, increasing feelings of capability and pleasantness. Physical activities do not have to be intensely demanding on the body, as they can serve the function of just giving your mind a break. This can include going for a walk, stretching or minimal functional movements.

  5. 5. Express your struggles

    Expression is powerfully healing and assists with stress management. By either speaking to others about what you’re dealing with or simply writing it down, one is able to release the pressure that may be building up within the mind. Expression can include numerous modalities, such as various creative pursuits like playing an instrument, painting, dancing or whatever it is that takes you into a state of momentary awareness.

  6. 6. Be mindful of or minimize drug use

    Drugs include alcohol and caffeine too. Alcohol is a depressant and although it may stimulate an individual in the moment, the effects are detrimental to one’s wellbeing and mindset. Other drugs have varying effects on the brain as well. Too much caffeine can seem helpful in the moment of studying, but the first tip that I’ve suggested, getting enough sleep, can be used as an alternative to depending on a substance to keep you awake.

It’s crucial to take care of yourself during stages of stress in life. The end of a semester is an especially stressful experience for many students. Many people want to end their courses on a strong note, so they often put an outstanding amount of pressure on themselves. Additionally, leaving work until the last minute can lead to an overflow of work that needs to be done in a short amount of time. Being mindful and aware of the causes of stress can greatly assist one’s abilities to combat the stress associated with a finalizing semester.