Exam Stress – the enemy of students

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Stress Response or in shorthand, stress is the way in which your brain and body react to a challenge or problem that needs to be addressed. This is the signal that underlies adaptation and is key for the building of resilience. The media bombards us with information which screams that stress is negative and needs to be avoided at all cost. This is not entirely true unless it is prolonged and extreme, becoming toxic for the mind and body.

Often confused with exam anxiety, exam stress is a normal response to writing an exam.  It is a signal that you need to develop solutions in order to succeed at that task. It can be caused due to pressure, under-preparedness, overthinking, competitiveness,  lousy time management, and last-minute preparation to state a few but it is not all harmful.

So, how do you deal with stress responses?

Keep it in perspective

Though you’ve heard this countless times, we reiterate, exams are not the end of the world. You are not a failure for not doing exceptionally in your exam. It is merely a funny task that you have to complete, a simple test to check your concept clarity and nothing more.

Get organised

Work out the basics and prepare a schedule and follow it earnestly but remember to set realistic goals. Don’t worry if you are off schedule, tomorrow is a new day.  Revise in small chunks and take breaks using the Pomodoro technique. If you don’t have enough time to prepare, it’s alright, no need to panic. Focus on concepts which will certainly grab you marks.

Cultivate good habits

What a cliche statement! But it holds true.  Our mind and body need its fair share of sleep, food, water and exercise. Depriving it of its requirements will have a negative effect. So we iterate, eat well, drink lots of water, sleep well and don’t be a couch potato. 

Figure out if you are a night owl or an early bird and study accordingly. Study in a place which makes you feel productive.

Avoid bad habits

Stop ignoring/procrastinating and start studying. There is no other way. But don’t take that as an excuse and cut out all the fun. Meet with your friends, play a game but also study accordingly. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and drugs, it will help you concentrate but only temporarily. It won’t do you much good in the long term. And of course, reduce screen time and increase sleep time.

Exam Day!

Pack all the necessary items the night before exam day, eat a healthy breakfast, use the toilet before the exam. If you feel yourself getting worried before your exam, use the box breathing technique to calm down. Collect your thoughts, read the question paper carefully, attempt the easy ones first and start writing. Re-read your answers before submitting and make necessary corrections. 

As simple as that!

Get support

Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed and have negative thoughts. Don’t give in to them. Instead, talk to your friends and family, if not get help here. 

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