No one likes exams, and no matter how prepared you are, you’ll always feel nervous before starting. Did you revise enough? Did you revise the right topic? Have you remembered to bring enough pens? Are you sat in the correct seat?! Exams are like buses: there will be none on the horizon, and then twenty arrive at the same time, so it’s not surprising that stresses build up dramatically on the approach to exam periods.
However, some people get more than the odd pre-exam jitter. Sleepless nights, panic attacks and illnesses often haunt students who suffer from extreme exam anxiety, all of it coming at the one time you want be healthy and getting a full night’s sleep. If this sounds like you, then follow our tips to help you get in control of your emotions, and into the right frame of mind for exam time.
Preparation is key
Without stating the obvious, you’re always going to be more stressed about subjects that you don’t feel confident about – it’s natural. To avoid adding this unnecessary stress to your plate, start creating a foolproof revision timetable a long way in advance. Going over your notes on a regular basis and testing your knowledge regularly can help in the long run when the real revision starts.
Don’t go easy on your favourite subjects though – thinking you’re doing well and don’t need to bother revising as much is the quickest way to panicking before an exam. It’s easy to prevent, so don’t fall into the trap of being too relaxed.
Get healthy and stay active
Foods high in trans fats, sugar and salt are likely to play with your mood: they cause huge energy spikes, which in turn results in plunging levels soon after. Stay away from large, heavy meals, and opt for smaller, more regular meals. Eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids can help life and regulate your mood as well.
Regular exercise is key to a healthy mind: exercise releases feel-good hormones, like endorphins, which are guaranteed to lift your mood and help beat the exam blues. Similarly, cardiovascular training has been proven to help you react more positively to stress, so pick your favourite form of exercise, and get going!
Have a blast
Don’t let yourself get buried under a pile of books and exam papers. Take an evening or a day off on a regular basis, and do something you love. This might be a walk through the woods, an evening with your friends, or a movie marathon complete with popcorn and nachos. Exams are only temporary, and you shouldn’t let them dictate your entire life. Once you learn to balance work and fun, you’ll have gained a vital skill that you’ll use for the rest of your life.
Misery loves company
The worst thing to do when you’re in a bad mood, or feeling down, is to seek the company of other people in the same funk as you. Find your most positive, happy friends, and spend a few hours with them. They too will be stressed about exams, but can either show you how to deal with it in a positive way, or use calm, happy energies to combat your low ones.
If you’re really struggling with how down you’re feeling, please speak to someone about it – there are sometimes more underlying causes than purely stress over work and exam nerves. There’s no shame about being worried, scared, or down, and a problem shared is always more easy to tackle than one you keep locked up.
Robert Grabiner – Founder of MyTutorWeb