A little bit of stress can sometimes go a long way. But with exam season approaching and that sinking feeling slowly creeping in, we all know too much of it can be the ultimate kryptonite to getting things done.
If your anxiety levels are sky-high and stress is taking its toll on you, it’s time to take care of yourself and prioritise mental health.
Here are seven ways to kick anxiety’s ass during exam season at MCAST and UoM, so you can ace those exams!
1. Routine, routine, routine
While some of us are terrified at the thought of a set structure, others are already reaping the benefits of having a healthy routine. Mental health professionals advise sticking to steady sleeping and eating patterns, as it significantly leads to improved mental health and less anxiety.
And routines don’t need to be boring! You can keep it as simple as scheduling a healthy breakfast or meeting a friend at the end of the day. A good sleeping rhythm is crucial, so make sure you put your head to rest around the same time every night.
You can also decide to dedicate the hour before bed to relax with your head out of your books and your eyes off the screens.
Once you’ve incorporated these things into your daily life, you’ll wish you had started earlier.
2. Cut down on coffee and energy drinks
And replace them with tea or juice.
We know it sounds insane to cut down on coffee during the time you probably need it the most. And yes, energy drinks are our right-hand man in times when that final revision seems more important than a good night’s rest.
But highly caffeinated and sugary drinks can actually increase your nerves, and thereby your anxiety. The same goes for sweet snacks and junk food, so swap those Twistees for carrots with hummus.
Remember that a quick pick-me-up will also quickly let you down. Instead, make sure your diet is well-balanced – meaning lots of fresh fruit and veggies, cereals, grains, nuts and proteins.
With a lot to do and little time left, it’s actually wise to stick to healthy eating and skipping the sugar and caffeine. Remember: what’s best for your body is best for your brain!
3. Practice your breathing
Whether you’re into mindfulness or not, breathing techniques actually have a proven effect on your stress levels. Take ten minutes out of your day to follow breathing exercises on YouTube and allow your body and mind to focus on the present moment.
Breathing techniques help you to relax because taking deep breaths sends your brain the message to calm down. It reminds your body how it feels to actually be relaxed. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to trick your mind and reduce your anxiety!
This also allows you to take a step back from your worries and put everything into perspective. Because no, it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t get a 75% in that one subject.
4. Take a break from the socials
Multiple studies have found a strong link between the use of social media use and an increased risk for depression, loneliness and anxiety. Constantly comparing yourself to those polished pictures on your feed truly does more harm than good.
So if you’ve been thinking about doing a digital detox, what’s a better time than now?
Switching off the socials during exam season is one of the best ways to use your time efficiently. With screen times reaching higher than ever, you’ll surely save time by not checking Tamara Webb’s Insta story or feeling envious about your friends’ outings to the beach.
Better yet, skipping social media during stressful periods will improve your overall mood. Whether that’s by breaking your social comparison cycle, conquering FOMO or connecting with the real world.
So say bye-bye to Facebook and Instagram for the time being and ace those exams!
5. Be kind to your mind
When you are drowning in notes and mock exams, it’s easy to forget to look back at how far you have come. You’ve already achieved so much this academic year!
Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for surviving a pandemic and continuing your degree while living through one of the weirdest years of your life.
And given that you have attended (most of) your lectures and prepared well, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to worry. When you notice your mind telling yourself off, change that thought around. Instead of “I’m a complete failure if I don’t pass this unit”, think “Whatever mark I get, I’m proud of making it this far!”
Being kind to yourself in this anxiety-inducing period will also give you that extra bit of motivation to work harder. Make sure to stay in touch with your nearest and dearest and take that well-deserved break!
6. Work and worry together
You don’t want to feel like a burden to your friends, family and classmates. But anxiety and stress only tend to build up if you crop it up and keep it to yourself. Remember that you are not the only one going through this stressful period – we’re all in this together.
On top of that, revising with peers is a more effective study technique than studying alone. Going through a topic together helps you understand it by discussing and explaining it to each other.
So get your gang together and go for those Costa Coffee study dates, because you’ll absorb your notes better and reap the rewards of emotional and social support.
7. Stay organised
Just like sticking to a routine, staying organised is not for everyone. And if you swear by thriving in the mess that your room is, good for you! But being organised often proves to be helpful in stressful situations.
Work out the basics: what’s on your to-do list, what have you already tackled, when is all of this over? Make sure to work towards an end date, as it reminds you that there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel.
Break up your revision into small chunks and plan ahead. Even though it may seem like a lot, it’s doable if you split it up into reachable goals. You’ll get there more effectively and feel more satisfied with yourself at the same time.
And keep in mind that nobody can work all day! Plan sufficient breaks to clear your mind and don’t get too sucked up in studying. If you give yourself plenty of time to rest, you’ll work more efficiently in the time you spend working.
How are you dealing with exam anxiety?