Becky Reed a final year student studying Sport and Social Sciences writes about some tips to help you through exam season.
Exam season can be a very stressful time for many of us. Last week was mental health awareness week, and the central feature of it this year was dealing with stress. Hopefully you have seen messages and activities around campus to give you tips on managing your stress. But, just because mental health week is over, it doesn’t mean that stress miraculously disappears (I wish).
So, this blog is dedicated on carrying on the conversation about stress. But, before I start telling you some tips I have picked up along the way, I want to say well done! Well done for getting through the academic year, and well done for finishing the first week of exams (you are at least one third of the way there!!!).
During this time of year, it can be very easy to get swept away with work. People around you are constantly talking about work; your lectures are making it very apparent ‘how important these exams are,’ and many societies have now stopped – taking away a key period of letting your hair down. BUT, no matter how many exams you have got, how important they are, or how much revision you need to do, you still need time for YOU. Becoming consumed in your work to the extent you are not doing anything else can be really damaging, firstly for your health, but also for your grades.
So, lets look at some ways you can look after yourself. None of these take hours out of your revision timetable, yet they can be a good way to look after your mental health. Just remember, a couple of hours away from your revision notes is not going to massively alter your grades. If anything, giving your mind a break will likely improve your productivity and therefore your grades. If you were training for a marathon you wouldn’t run continually up until race day. You would eat properly, take enough rest for your body to repair, and you would get a massage to help avoid injuries. Your brain is no different. It needs, and deserves, a rest.
Here are some tips…
- Take a walk. Enjoy the fresh air and the sun.
- Keep hydrated.
- Do some gentle exercise. This can get endorphins pumping around your body, which can be really great to relieve stress.
- Treat yourself to a night with friends. You could go out for dinner, watch a movie, or really pamper yourselves.
- Make sure you’re eating properly. If you don’t feel you have time to cook meals, why not make bulk meals at the weekend? You may have the same meal for the whole week, but at least you will be saving time and still keeping healthy.
- Write everything you’re feeling down. Get it out of your head. This is particularly good if you’re having trouble sleeping. Write everything down just before you do to bed. It can be a great way to slow down the mind.
- Talk to someone. This could be a friend, a family member, a member of your departments teaching team, or a professional. I know this can be extremely hard, especially when you feel that everyone else has a lot on as well. However, it can be really helpful for you, and maybe even for them! A lot of your friends are probably in a similar situation to you; so opening up could be a massive relief for them too. A problem shared really is a problem halved.
Perhaps though you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’m not stressed at all… what is wrong with me?’ And the answer, of course, is nothing. Everyone deals with this time of year differently, and there is nothing wrong with that. If all your housemates or course mates are really stressed and you’re not, don’t let them create stress in you. Just remind yourself that everyone is different.
Maybe though you’re at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to stress and are lacking motivation all together. This period of exams can be particularly hard, especially when the sun is shining, or some of your friends have already finished and are plastering social media with photos of them travelling. But, it’s important to remember, that no matter how frustrating that is, you still have a job to do. Here are some tips that may help ignite some motivation:
- Turn off social media for parts of the day.
- Take a break. There is no point sitting at your notes getting frustrated with your brain not focussing. Walk away. Do something you enjoy to clear your head, and then you will return feeling refreshed.
- Remember how much work has gone in to getting you to this point. You really don’t have long left. Just two weeks and then a 3 month long summer will commence. You can do it!!
- Search the Internet for motivational quotes. This may sound cringey but it can really help to kick start your mind into work mode.
If you feel like you’re really struggling this exam period, please reach out for help. Student Services and the Students’ Union are a great source of support, as are GP’s and personal tutors/director of studies. You are not alone, and you will not feel like this forever. I really hope your exams go well!