You’ve survived this far. You’ve established yourself as a dedicated student at the start of the year and managed to control your sarcasm in that one particularly ridiculous lecture. You’ve made it through the inevitable embarrassing moments with grace and dignity. You’ve even moved on from that group project that left you wanting to wring your partner’s neck. But now you face your Everest — exams.
Much like a full moon, exam season turns otherwise typical students into terrifying monsters. Red eyes from sleepless nights, caffeine jitters and twitches, an invasion of stress pimples, and tempers that could send a beast looking for sanctuary. Some seem immune to the mutation and it isn’t because they’ve managed to get their hands on a secret potion. It’s because they followed this simple five step formula to avoid stress controlling their lives:
- No all nighters!
We’re all tired of hearing preachy bloggers telling us to eat right and exercise. By now you have probably had that information drilled into your head so deep that you could recite veg serving recommendations in your sleep. But let’s face it, it can be hard to make time for meal prep and exercise, especially during exams.
Instead of pressuring you to take care of your body in the obvious ways, how about we settle for an obtainable goal — GET SOME SLEEP! Sleep will lower your stress levels and even help you fight stress the following day.
You’ve been told thousands of times that you need 8–10 hours of sleep and that it is important for improving memory. Snoozing for so long sounds great, but let’s be realistic. Between extracurriculars, studying, homework, relationships, and showering, 8–10 hours is an awfully big commitment.
Start with baby steps. Make sleeping, for however long you can commit, a priority. Keep a stable bedtime and use your bed only to sleep. This means watching Netflix, scrolling Insta, studying, and reading somewhere other than your bed.
- Get Rid of Your Distractions
Committing to studying instead of binging on the the newest Netflix original or basking in the sunrays with your friends already creates a bit of FOMO, so what is a little more? Ignore social media, and your phone in general, while studying.
Our phones have become additional limbs, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, ignoring it is pretty difficult. The best option is to turn it off completely, but you could also consider (temporarily) deleting your social media apps if you need to keep your phone on.
Focus solely on the information you need to study — don’t have the TV on in the background. Maybe even go as far as to turn off Spotify. If the silence is too brutal, make up a playlist of instrumental music only. Let the only words that flow through your brain be the words that you are reading from your textbook. Cutting distractions will help you retain more information and your confidence in the subject will crush your stress.
- Treat Yo’ Self
All work and no play has never ended well for anyone. Don’t let your desk become your prison — it is possible to enjoy studying.
Have a long report to complete? Use http://writtenkitten.co/! This website treats you to a picture of a cat every 100/200/500/1000 words you type, and is there any treat better than a picture of a cat from the internet?
If sweet treats keep you moving, go for dark chocolate. There have been studies supporting dark chocolate reducing stress levels, AND it releases endorphins which will lift your spirits so you can lift your grades.
While cats and chocolate are among the best things in life, don’t bypass taking a solid break if your timeline can allow for it. Take a 30 second breather, a five minute stretch, 10 minutes on social media, a 20 minute walk or settle in for an episode of Glow. Trust me, you deserve it.
- Find Relaxation Techniques that Work for You
Sometimes, someone telling you to “just relax” may result in a textbook flying at their face. What kind of advice is that?! What the hell is relaxing anyway? Well ladies, keep your books at bay because you’re not about to read a cheesy ‘one size fits all’ answer. We all have different relaxing strategies. Some crazy people run to relax. Some people read. Some of us like to play with dogs. Find whatever it is that sends you into a zen state of mind, and do it as much as you can. You can think much more clearly when you’re not stressed, and thinking clear is one of the keys to success.
Need a relaxing technique to start with? Mindful breathing slows your heart rate, which tricks your body into relaxation; focusing on your breathing clears your mind of everything else. To start, close your eyes, lean back in your chair and inhale deeply for four counts. Now exhale for eight counts, or longer if you’re able. Do it once, do it twice, do it 30 times…whatever your body needs. Need to take it one step further? Lie on your back with your hands on your stomach and your fingers loose and relaxed while you do the inhale and exhale counts. Focus on your diaphragm moving up and down.
- Stay Positive
We’re all aiming for perfection, but sometimes we need to understand that ‘good enough’ is a great outcome, too. Don’t get too hung up on being at the top. Don’t compare yourself to others. Just do your best and accept it. Putting too much pressure on yourself can result in unnecessary stress and negative self-talk. Decrease the stifling negative thoughts and turn “I’ll never be the top of the class” into “I’m a brilliant, badass woman who is competent enough to pass this exam.”
The most important thing to remember during exam season is that this too shall pass. Take a deep breath, do your best, and always practice self-care. Happy cramming!
We want to hear from you! Share your exam freakouts and your relaxation methods!