We can place enormous pressure on ourselves in the lead up to exams. This can lead to feeling stressed. It is important to note that sometimes stress can be helpful for things like exams, and other times it can be really unhelpful. It’s a question of how much, and for how long. Stress can be helpful if it sharpens our focus, increases concentration, increases motivation and gives us the energy we need for complex study.
However, too much stress, or experiencing stress for too long can make studying really difficult. Too much stress can leave us feeling overwhelmed, irritable, unable to think clearly or concentrate, and feeling panicked. And this is not helpful for study.
To help manage stress and ensure that you’re well placed to study, headspace has some tips in the lead up to and during exams.
→ Consider a study plan and goals for each day / week. It can help to keep it balanced with other important things in your life – that way it will be easier to stick to.
→ If possible, talk to your employers early to let them know you need to limit your shifts / hours while studying.
→ Create a study space that is comfortable, quiet, well lit, organised, and has no distractions nearby, such as a TV, phone, people talking, etc.
→ Having everything you need for each study session can help you to feel more confident and organised.
→ Removing distractions can help to stay focused on study. You could try things like switching off your phone and email to stop the distractions.
→ Self-care is especially important when you have a big demand in your life. It can give you the energy to commit to what you need to accomplish.
→ Build activities you enjoy and that bring your stress levels down into your study plan, such as sport, spending time with friends, spending time outdoors, etc.
→ It can help to have nutritional snacks that keep you going, such as fruit/nuts, etc.
→ It can help to stay active. Try scheduling the things you enjoy, whether that be a walk, yoga, or getting outdoors with a friend. This can help you to keep focused and energetic.
→ Work out what times of day you have the most energy and plan to study then.
→ Try to schedule breaks. These can be every 40-60 mins. Even a 5 minute break will help. A glass of water can help too!
→ When you have a break, try to do something physical or fun, such as go outdoors or play with a pet.
→ Relaxation is important, especially before bed, to slow the brain activity down. Try some slow, deep breathing, a shower or a bath, herbal tea etc.
→ Try to create a routine for sleep. Prioritising sleep can really help to recover, giving you the energy to study the next day.
→ If you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be hard to think clearly when making a plan. Sharing these problems with someone you trust can help. You might try a teacher, friend or family member.
→ Friends, family or teachers can also play an important part in helping you stick to your study plan, and also overcome things that might get in your way.
→ Getting support from people you trust can also help to promote your wellbeing, leaving you in a better place to study.
→ Ask teachers the best way to study for each subject; they have many years’ experience they can share with you.
→ Group study sessions with classmates can be a helpful and entertaining way of studying but keep your focus on what you want to achieve with these sessions.
It’s ok to feel stressed sometimes – especially when facing different challenges like exams and changing ways of life. If you want to learn more about how to manage stress levels, check out more information here.
If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.
Find out more tips for a healthy headspace at www.headspace.org.au/tips