– By Oluwatosin Giwa

Finals are fast approaching and we are in that time of the year again when stress levels heighten. These exams are not just a “big deal”, they are the “big deal” and you’ll never imagine that after acing 3 or 5 professional exams, that last round would be even more demanding. When you start  worrying a lot, feeling tense, getting irritable, having poor quality sleep, losing interest in food or eating more than normal, getting lots of headaches and stomach pains, you know it is the familiar aura of exam tension.

While some stress can actually be helpful to motivate your revision, exams can make stress levels escalate to a level that also impacts your performance and well being. Thankfully there are lots of things you can do to manage your stress levels, help you to relax and perform to the best of your abilities.

  • MAKE A PLAN: Taking the time to get organised is a quick way to reduce stress or anxiety around exams. Start by focusing on the basics – where, when and how long will you dedicate to each course? Where are you the most productive? Which revision might require more attention? Breaking it down into small chunks makes it easier to focus and feel accomplished. Remember – this also means scheduling breaks for relaxation. And if you go slightly off schedule? Don’t panic – tomorrow is another day!
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: It can be easy to let little things slip when we are stressed. Keep it simple and focus on good habits that will actually improve your ability to study and succeed.

Eat well:  You may be tempted to binge eat on junk food due to stress. However, this is unlikely to make you feel more relaxed. Food has a direct effect on your mood, so make sure to eat high-quality foods leading up to your exam.

Drink Water: Staying hydrated will help your mind and body function properly and sufficiently under stress.

Sleep: Did you know that our memories are backed-up when we sleep? This alone speaks to the importance of sleeping well during the exam period.

Relax: There are lots of simple calming breathing techniques and body movements that you can practice to help reduce stress. Relaxation podcasts can also be an easy way to relax as you study.

  • KNOW WHAT NOT TO DO: Try to avoid the common pitfalls that can occur during stressful periods. Bad habits such as setting unrealistic goals, cutting out all enjoyment or fun from your life, and the overuse of stimulants (such as caffeine, alcohol and drugs) can have a negative impact and prevent you from reaching your goals 
  • KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE: While they are significant, it is important to remember that exams aren’t everything and are certainly not the only element that defines you as a student. Reflect on how far you’ve come and your previous academic successes that have gotten you to where you are now. 
  • ASK FOR HELP: Talk it out! If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious it can be helpful to talk about it. It might be that you don’t want to discuss with your friends, so know that there are lots of other options available to you. 
  • ADOPT A POSITIVE MINDSET: If you’re down on yourself, you’re more likely to stress out. Instead of convincing yourself you’re doomed to fail, go into the exam with a positive mentality. Having a positive personal mantra to keep your mood up while you study.

If you’re so stressed out over an exam, you may be placing too much importance on it. It’s good to strife for excellence, however, try to keep things in perspective. One exam is not going to make or break your life. Do your very best and stay positive. Vitória é certa!


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