The revision period can be a stressful time. With a higher concentration of hours spent studying, big expectations placed on exam results and constant opportunities to compare yourself to others, it’s very natural to be feeling stressed.
A little bit of ‘pressure’ can sometimes be positive, with the sense of urgency it provides giving you some motivation and helping you work with efficiency. But feeling overwhelmed, burned out and panicky definitely isn’t healthy. And it will even shut down productivity as your brain focuses on the fear. So you should be taking proactive steps to reduce stress and protect your health as well as increase exam success.
Stress isn’t all in the mind: it has a physical impact too. It disrupts sleep patterns, making you tired and affecting your ability to concentrate, can mess with digestion, exacerbate skin conditions and cause headaches, chest pains and even panic attacks. Stress also has an impact on the emotional side of things, making you more irritable and upset and affecting relationships.
Here are a few stress-busting tips you should try out that will help you get through to the end of exams!
Deep breathing techniques genuinely help if you’re starting to feel panicky but they also good to do in general. Breathe in through your nose, counting till five, and then out of your mouth for five, letting your breath flow deeply into your lungs and down into your belly. Do this for a couple of minutes and watch as you instantly feel calmer.
Make a move
Physical movement is great for helping your body release some of the tension it’s storing and clear your mind. Getting away from your desk, even if it’s just for a short walk, can help give clarity, focus and a fresh perspective. Making sport and exercise an important part of your revision timetable is also good as this produces endorphins - the chemicals in your brain whose job is to boost your mood!
Make a plan
A key way to tackle stress is to make a plan of what can be done to reduce that stress. When you just think about all you have to do it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Writing down the specific actions you can take to find solutions to your stress (and then doing them) will show you that these tasks are way more manageable than they seem.
Planning also means organising some fun rewards for yourself for studying, both after exams and during the revision period! Having something to look forward to really helps with motivation and reminding you that exams, though important, aren’t the be all and end all.
Your friends and family are likely to have noticed you’re feeling stressed and will want to help. As part of making a plan to deal with your stress, see if there are any areas you can get some support. Surrounding yourself with people who make you smile and can talk to you about things that aren’t revision notes is also important to get some perspective!
Be kind to yourself
A lot of stress stems from the expectations and pressures you place on yourself. It’s great to have goals and aspirations but if you’re always worrying about not meeting them, or constantly comparing yourself to others, then that’s negative. Also accept that you can’t necessarily control everything and that there are some things you won’t be able to change - but that’s ok. Be kind to yourself.
Although we all experience periods of stress, be aware that your mental and emotional state might indicate something more. High pressure situations can highlight or exacerbate serious mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. If you feel there’s a bigger underlying problem, it’s important to see a medical professional who will be able to help.