How to Deal with Exam Stress at University

What exactly is exam stress and how can it be managed when at university?

Exam season is often the most stressful time of the year for most university students, and some are able to cope with it better than others. It’s normal to feel stressed when you have important exams coming up, but too much stress can be difficult to deal with and can affect you in your daily life. In this blog post, we’ll look at what exam stress actually is and how you can deal with it effectively. 

What is exam stress?

Exam stress is a perfectly normal feeling that most students will experience when exams are just around the corner. Some students tend to worry about exams when they are coming up, which can affect the ability to study effectively. Another common form of exam stress is worrying about the results, which is difficult as there isn’t a lot you can do about the result. 

Thankfully, there are certain things you can do which can be helpful when it comes to dealing with exam stress. Making small lifestyle changes or being proactive with dealing with exam stress can help give you a bit more clarity and help relieve some of the pressure. 

How to tell if you are suffering from exam stress

There are a number of symptoms often associated with stress, and if exam dates are looming closer and you find yourself feeling the pressure, the likelihood is that exam stress is kicking in. When you start feeling the pressure, the body’s natural response is to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. 

If you’re regularly experiencing sweaty hands or shallow breathing along with feelings of stress, then the pressure of your exams might be starting to take a toll on you. If it feels like the stress is too much, then it’s time to start actively trying to deal with it. 

Ways to deal with exam stress

Take regular breaks

The importance of taking breaks during revision periods can’t be understated. Regular breaks ensure that you don’t overwork yourself and allow for you to clear your mind. The longer you try and concentrate for without taking breaks, the more difficult it is to absorb information and think clearly. 

Taking a 5-10 minute break per hour of studying is recommended and gives you the opportunity to switch off temporarily to recharge yourself. 

Eat healthy

Healthy food

A healthy diet is essential for maintaining wellbeing, and it’s especially important during exam season as a well balanced diet will energise you and ensure you are getting all the required nutrients. Consuming a good level of healthy carbs will provide you with slow-releasing energy, allowing you to concentrate for longer.

Be more organised

Mess and disorganisation are often associated with stress, so organising your workstation can be a source of mental clarity and stress relieve. Having a clear, structured plan outlined can help you with your work organisation and allow you to track your progress in a more clear format. 

If you feel yourself becoming cluttered whilst you are studying, try cleaning up your workspace and planning how you are going to approach your next studying sessions, as organisation and breaking down tasks can help effectively reduce feelings of stress. 

Speak to someone

If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, one of the best things you can do is to talk it out with someone. Most people will have been in a similar situation to you or may even be feeling the same if they also have upcoming exams. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with family, friends or even anonymously with a support group can help you feel less stressed. Talking out problems has been proven to be effective in reducing cortisol levels, so if you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s important you let someone else know. 

Exercise and get fresh air

Woman running

Exercise and fresh air are crucial when it comes to relieving stress. When we exercise, we release natural hormones such as endorphins which help to make us feel good and reduce stress. This is why it can be really beneficial to get into a regular exercise routine, especially around exam season when you’ll likely be dealing with a lot of stress.

Fresh air is also important, and exercising outdoors is a great way of relieving stress. If you are spending long periods of time in doors studying, you need to make sure you are going outside to get fresh air. Going outside will also boost your vitamin D from the sun, which is essential for your health and wellbeing.

Set realistic goals

If you are stressed, try setting realistic goals of what you want to accomplish from each of your study sessions, and what you are hoping to achieve from the exam itself. It’s important to be realistic with your aims, and not set yourself goals that are going to be impossible to achieve. 

Stay positive

Mindset is crucial when it comes to exam performance, so it’s essential you try and stay positive. It can be notoriously difficult to think positively whilst you are stressed, but it’s important to believe in yourself to give yourself the best chance of success with your studying and exams. 

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