27 Feb 12 Stress Management Tips That Every Student Must Know Before Exams
March is the season of examinations, where stress starts rising along with the temperature, especially for students and more for those appearing for their board exams. Exam fear, anxiety, overwhelm are words that are thrown around in conversations all the time during the exam periods. Before we try to manage them, let’s first understand them.
What is stress, and why does it happen?
Stress, fear, worry are all emotions that occur when one feels one is not in control, when what he is supposed to do is beyond his abilities – physical or mental. The result is again felt physically – fatigue, difficulties in eating or sleeping, headaches, lowered immunity and mentally – poor concentration, disorientation, not able to learn or forgetting during the exam, overwhelm etc.
Also stress can affect one any time during the exam process like
- Before the exams – preparation
- During the exams – on the day of the exam or while writing it
- After the exam – about what one has written or the results thereof
If you are facing any of these and want to overcome them.
Here Are 12 Stress Management Tips That You Must Not Miss
1. Honing the body
We all know of the connection between the mind and body. So it follows that a healthy, active and well rested body leads to an active, focused and relaxed mind. Yet most students, due to stress or under the influence of friends, start skipping meals and studying till late night. Also adults often encourage students to study continuously often at the cost of other activities like hobbies, sports or exercise. Result often is an unhealthy body and an overheated mind. Follow these basic rules to keep your body healthy so it doesn’t add to the stress.
Students must have a regular and healthy diet as just like a car needs fuel to run, the mind also needs energy to function. Not eating properly or snacking on junk food results in the mind not getting enough energy to function properly. Result: lack of focus, concentration, not being able to remember and getting tired too soon.
Sleep is equally important as it gives the mind time to relax, absorb and process what it has done during the day. Not getting enough sleep, or trying to study through the night disturbs the regular cycle of the body, leading to the mind not functioning at its optimum. Many students have vouched for the fact that they would have performed significantly better in the exams if only they had rested the night before.
4. Physical activity
Physical exercise is a must for the body. Fit in at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity during the day where you walk, jog, swim or play a sport. It can be continuous or broken into 15 minute segments. These activities lead to better circulation resulting in an active and efficient mind.
Having enough water is a must to keep yourself hydrated well. Dehydration due to the heat, not having enough water or substituting soft drinks for water leads to feeling light headed and dizzy, confused and unfocused. Water is also a great stress buster, drinking water, washing face, hands and feet or going for a shower all help in relaxing and calming you down. Avoid caffeine and junk. Both lead to sugar rushes and crashes which result in inability to focus and learn. Tea, especially green tea, is a better and safer drink.
6. Sharpening the mind
The mind is like a knife, works beautifully when it is sharp but very frustrating when it is blunt. And there is nothing that blunts the mind more than stress which in turns is caused due to anxiety, overwhelm, perfectionism and panic. Following are some ways in which you can work on restoring the acuteness of the mind by identifying what are your stressors and using the techniques to deal with them
Like we discussed earlier, stress happens when you feel you are not in control. But if you think about it, you are never really in full control of anything. In every situation in life there are certain things in your power and a lot which are not. You can focus on things that you can’t control like the question paper, the corrections or the results or you can focus on what is in your hands like studying well, concentrating and writing everything you know. Which makes you feel more confident and which leads to anxiety, and which of these feelings will help you perform better? Whenever you feel anxious or worried, start doing what you can. The mind cannot feel when it is busy doing something.
Thoughts like Too much to do, too little time, Can’t finish the complete syllabus, lead to stress and panic where it is very difficult for the mind to be logical or practical. Breathing down the things to be done into smaller chunks and if that is still too overwhelming into further steps helps you feel in control again. So if you are stressing about a subject still to be done and not enough time, breaking it down into chapters and the chapters further into topics makes things seem more doable. Then focusing on them and doing them gets you back on track.
9. Be aware of Time Stealers
Don’t try to be perfect – perfection is a huge time stealer and most times neither possible nor probable. If you spend too much time perfecting something, whether learning or writing, it is often at the cost of something else. So stay balanced and to deal with perfectionism follow the 80/20 rule – aim at completing 80% of the material. If there is time you can finish the remaining 20%, else move ahead. You might lose 20 but you still gain 80 from the next bit
10. Don’t Multitask
While on the surface it looks like you are saving time when you multitask, you actually don’t. In reality you end up spending more time as you change focus all the time switching between tasks. Multitasking not only impacts the time but also the performance as the learning is just not deep enough. So while studying, switch off the mobile as looking at notifications every time there is a ding, looking up messages in the middle all take away from the quality of your study time.
11. Organize your time, your space and your mind.
Knowing what to do and when to do it, instead of deciding when you sit down to study saves a lot of time and effort. So plan ahead which chapter of which subject you’ll do when and how much time it will take. Also knowing where your books, stationary, reference material are keeps you focused on what really matters.
12. Don’t think about the future
Be in the present moment and focus on the task at hand. Thinking about the future – grades, results, and especially the stream options and career options only build anxiety. Remember that your board exams don’t or shouldn’t decide the career you opt for. A career guidance program can be your best resource for that. However whatever you do decide on will require that you do well academically. So challenge these thoughts by stressing on what is important in the moment or use journaling. Write down distracting thoughts in detail and get back to your work. If the thought pops up again, which is rare, you can gently remind yourself you have already thought this through and get back to your work. Schedule career guidance for later to help resolve all anxiety related to the future.
Dealing with Stress
While following the above strategies creates an internal and external space where you are relaxed and focused, it is still possible that you might get stressed. Given below is a comprehensive list of strategies that works at different levels to help you relax again. You can try whatever appeals to you, and if that doesn’t work you can try something else.
- Hugging a tree – if you are a person who feels calm when connecting with nature, hugging a tree is a superfast way of letting go of stress and recharging yourself.
- Breath – breathing techniques are a sure fire way of relaxing and improving concentration. Bhramari helps release tension, A.nulom vilom improves concentration and Kapalbhati improves learning and memory.
- Mindfulness – getting yourself to the present moment by focusing on sensations in the body helps combat anxiety
- Music – pick me up when you are sad, rousing or motivational when you want courage, calm and soothing when you feel overwhelmed, you can have playlists to help you with different emotions. However when you are studying make sure you only listen to instrumentals music which has no lyrics at all
- Memories – use your memories just like you would use music. Have lists of memories that make you feel a certain way – happy, strong, brave, supported or capable. Visualizing the relevant memories help you reach the emotional state you are aiming for by confusing your subconscious.
- Affirmations – using affirmations is another excellent strategy to trick your subconscious mind. Using sentences like “I am confident”, “I’m prepared” “I remember everything that i have learnt” prime your mind for success. Just make sure they are short, positive statements in the present tense. Looking yourself in the eye in the mirror while saying your affirmations aloud increases the impact.
- Singing/humming – using your throat muscles by singing or humming activates the Vagus nerve leading to relaxation while disengaging the sympathetic nervous system which causes stress
- Aromas – consciously using aromas like lavender for relaxation, rosemary for improving memory, chamomile for anxiety, grapefruit for stress, lemongrass or citrus for freshness helps you get into the emotional space that you want to get into very fast. They can be used in the form of diffusers, incense sticks or even perfumes.
- EFT or tapping – look this up on the net as it is a sure shot way to get rid of anxiety and feel more prepared though takes some time to do
There are many more strategies that might not be mentioned here. Do make a list of them and keep them handy for when needed.
If none of the strategies work in your favor, you can come to us for personal couseling as we (RMCC) do provide Personal Counseling services in order to maintain mental wellness for students.
Wishing you stress-free learning and effective writing in your exams.