With the end of the semester approaching at an alarming rate, the thought of exams is looming in many students’ minds. I for one have never found preparing for exams a fun experience and the stress that it causes is definitely something I try to avoid. I’ve found some things that help me, and they might help you to deal with the stress as well.
One of my go to strategies is to tackle it head-on. This might sound daunting, but actually creating a plan with small, achievable steps really helps me to feel prepared for the upcoming task. I usually write out a rough idea of what I need to get done. This could be the topics I need to revise, or the steps I need to take to write an essay. I’ll give you an example: Before starting my latest essay, I wrote out the topics I needed to research, the structure of the essay and the content I wanted for each section, and the steps to edit and turn it in. I then put these steps in my calendar in very tangible ways (Monday: research three articles, Tuesday: write 500 words, etc.). This helps me to start with small manageable steps and also gives me a feeling of progress when I can check tasks off. I didn’t always keep up with the schedule I had, but I had patience with myself and kept at it.
Another strategy I use when I have a lot of deadlines and exams is to take a break and do something creative. It can really help to express your stress instead of letting it build up inside. I like to draw and paint, but there’s so many other ways to be creative. Writing, singing, dancing, or any other creative activity you enjoy or want to try are great options. The goal isn’t to make a beautiful work of art but just to relieve some stress, so don’t put pressure on yourself.
Talk with friends and family
If creative expression isn’t for you, talking with friends or family can be another way to unwind. I’ve found that talking with course mates who are just as stressed as I am can make me feel less alone. Knowing that we’re struggling together can be comforting. It can be helpful to revise together because you can keep each other focussed and more motivated. Talking with family or non-students can also be a relief, to get some outside perspective and some good advice as well. Acknowledging your stress can be a good first step to helping to deal with it.
Take care of your body
Some aspects of life tend to be put on the backburner during exam times. Sleeping less, eating less healthy, and not making time to exercise can be the result of busy times, but this actually makes us perform worse. It’s important to make sure you get enough sleep so that you can remember all the information you worked so hard to revise. Having good fuel for your body means you won’t be running on sugar crashes or dehydration. Exercise is also a great way to help your brain out, whether it’s going for a five-minute walk or joining a sports society. Any small steps you can take to improve one of these is great. None of us are machines though, so it’s completely okay to not have the perfect lifestyle every week of your life!
Keep it in perspective
Lastly, it’s key to keep it all in perspective. As exams approach, we can get tunnel vision with studying and grades being our sole focus. While our studies are a large part of our lives, they are not the entirety of it. There is more to you and to your life than just your grades. We should all try our best to do well, but it is not more important than your mental and physical health.
Good luck and make sure to take care of yourself!