Exam Life: Combating Revision Stress

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Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.

Exams are stressful — we get it. But there are a few things you can do to make yourself feel that little bit more relaxed and rejuvenated over study leave, even when the going gets tough!

1. Do something productive that isn’t revision

Watching TV, scrolling through Instagram or playing a video game might be great, but they don’t keep your brain switched on.

Find an activity that takes you away from revision but is still engaging and productive, so that even on your down time you feel like you’re achieving something. This should make you more relaxed about taking breaks, as you’re still working towards a goal!

A few things we recommend:

  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Reading
  • A jigsaw puzzle
  • Baking
  • A game of solitaire
  • Painting, drawing or colouring.
2. Maintain your perspective

During the exam period, exams and revision can become your entire life. This often means that when something doesn’t go to plan, you beat yourself up or start to panic about failing.

When these feelings hit it’s important to look at the bigger picture; because realistically, even if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped, the world isn’t going to end.

Panicking only wastes time and energy – so if a bout of worrying hits, take a deep breath, try and get some perspective, and wait for it to pass.

3. Don’t stew over past exams

It’s so tempting to come out of an exam and have a full, answer-by-answer debrief with your friends; but if you put something different, or don’t feel confident about how well you’ve done, it can make you worry.

As soon as you step out of an exam, whether you think you smashed it or not, just forget about it and move on. There’s nothing you can do to impact your result once you’re out, so there’s no point over-analysing how it went with your friends. Onto the next!


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4. Have a bath

Everyone loves a bath, right? And if you think you don’t, you probably just don’t have the right kind of bubble bath!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, run yourself a nice warm bath with lots of bubbles and candles in the evening, take your book, and enjoy 15 minutes to yourself. It’s the perfect antidote to stress.

5. Calm breathing

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.

6. Exercise

Physical movement is great for helping your body release some of the tension it’s stor- ing 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!

7. Get support

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!

8. Be kind to yourself

A lot of stress stems from the pressures you place on yourself. It’s great to have goals, but if you’re always worrying about not meeting them, then that’s negative. Accept that you can’t do more than your best, cut yourself some slack. You’ll feel far better for it.

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