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Top tips for exam stress from Spectrum Life

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Get information and tips on how to manage your stress during exam season from our student assistance programme providers Spectrum Life.

Exams can be a huge source of stress, worry and pressure.

Stress is a normal human response, but when felt to a high degree it can reduce productivity and impact physical and emotional wellbeing.

Read on for some tips on how to manage your stress during exam season.

Keep it in perspective

Remember – exams aren’t everything. Whatever happens in your exams, you can still be successful in life afterwards. One exam does not define your capabilities.

Once you have completed an exam, try to forget about it. No amount of worrying will change your mark.

Focus on what you can control

If you are worrying, ask yourself “is this something I have control over?”. If it is, problem-solve and make an action plan. If not, try to let the worry go, and tell yourself that you can’t do anything about it right now. Focus on what you can do, not what could happen in the future.

Using mindfulness, meditation and grounding techniques can be a helpful way for us to ‘let go’ of things outside of our control.

Plan in advance

  • Be realistic – don’t set yourself goals that you won’t be able to achieve.
  • Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Take frequent breaks, for example, by using techniques such as ‘Pomodoro’.

Reduce procrastination

  • Stress can make us procrastinate and avoid doing certain tasks.
  • This provides relief in the moment, but problems in the long-term.

Try some of these tips to ‘put off’ procrastination:

Just 5 Minutes – Tell yourself that you will just spend 5 minutes on a task. This is such a small amount of time, you will likely feel you can tolerate it. At the end of the 5 minutes reassess and see if you can continue – you may be surprised at how much you can do once you’ve gotten started.

Worst First – For small but dreaded tasks, get it over and done with first. Other tasks will seem easy after that.

Prime Time – Think about the time of day when you tend to have the most energy and schedule the most demanding tasks for during that time.

Prime Place – Find a working environment with minimal distractions where you have the highest chance of being productive. Avoid working in places where you also like to relax, e.g. bed, living room sofa.

Using Momentum – Use the energy from doing a task you like to jump straight into a task you’ve been putting off. E.g. go straight to the library after meeting a friend for lunch.

Keep up good habits

Stressful times can lead to a sort of ‘tunnel vision’ where we focus only on work.

Making sure you have a ‘work-life balance’ will can increase productivity and energy when you do need to study.

  • Eat well and drink lots of water.
  • Keep active - exercise in whatever way you can.
  • Go outside and get fresh air every day
  • Make time for relaxing and unwinding
  • Reward yourself after a day of studying
  • Stick to a sleep routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Use your support network. Talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling, and let them know if there is anything they can do to support you.

To access more tips for managing your wellbeing, sign up to Spectrum Life for free.

Spectrum Life, our Student Assistance Programme, provides you with free wellbeing support and counselling via phone or online chat.

Further support

To find out more about Spectrum Life and what our Student Wellbeing Service can offer you, visit our support page.