It’s the day before your final maths exam. You wake up startled as you realise that you only have one day left to study. The stress of it all starts to creep in. We get it and we’re with you.
For many of you, you’ve reached the halfway mark with your exams and, oftentimes, this can be the most stressful time. Fatigue is kicking in and, as your mind drifts into holiday mode, the stress of getting through your last few exams starts to grow significantly.
How do I know if I’m stressed?
Stress can be caused by a variety of things. In Grade 9, it may be caused by the looming pressure of having to choose matric subjects; in Grade 12, by the weight of the final exams. Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that stress manifests itself in different ways. For some of us, it might present itself as a sore stomach or a lack of appetite. For others, it might be experienced through mood swings or anxiety. The key is to always be aware of how you are feeling physically and emotionally when you are going through a busy time.
So, how can you plough through the rest of your exams without letting your stress get away with you? We have some handy tips to relieve exam stress.
1. Plan, prepare and prioritise
Your sense of control has a massive influence on your stress levels and how resilient you are. The more in control you feel, the more likely you are to feel capable of managing your stress and getting through your work. Therefore, it is so important to start with a plan. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
– Where are you going to start?
– How much time are you going to spend on a specific task?
– What are you going to work on today?
The more organised you are, the more in control you will feel.
2. Turn off distractions
It is so easy to convince yourself that you will just ‘quickly’ check your Instagram, but the truth is: keeping an Instagram session under 5 minutes is very difficult. Social media is a great vehicle for procrastination and procrastination is a massive cause of stress. If you need some help resisting the temptation of a quick scroll, try deleting social media off your cell phone during exams. If this is too extreme, leave your phone with your mom or a friend. They can hold you accountable and limit your access.
3. Get moving
Regular exercise is a great way to clear your mind, get the blood flowing and help you regain focus. This is so important. Pulling all-nighters and working for hours on end without a proper break can increase symptoms of stress and anxiety. So, as you plan your days, aim to schedule in at least 30 minutes of exercise – you will be happier (and more productive) for it!
4. Remember to eat and sleep well
From the start, try to maintain a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and high-quality proteins, which improve mood, memory, and ability to focus. In addition to this, aim to get between 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Research suggests that we need to sleep to lay down memory (hold onto memories). Sleep also improves your mood and with an improved mood, your ability to deal with the stress of exams will be much greater.
5. Share your burden
There is nothing worse than bottling up your stress and trying to manage it on your own. If you are struggling to get started on a task, or you don’t know how to order your to-do list, reach out to a family member, a close friend or even a mentor. Talking your stress through with someone is a great way to get clarity and feel in control. A little bit of stress can be healthy but, left unmanaged, it can make you feel totally overwhelmed and out of control.
Keep these tips in mind as you tackle the last few weeks of exams. You’ve got this!
The first step to fighting exam stress is to begin. Start somewhere by getting out of bed, or making a list. As soon as you bite off small chunks of work, you will find your workload a lot easier to manage. We believe in you! 🙂