Dealing with exam stress

Carmen BryceBlog posts

It’s the first week of June, the sun’s out but students are still walking around with their heads in books. That can only mean one thing, the dreaded Leaving Certificate exams are here.

These exams are one of the biggest sources of stress for school leavers and even those of us who finished secondary school years ago. Due to the meaning of these exams, it can seem like the end of the world if you aren’t happy with your grades. While this stress is normal, there are ways to manage it by remembering that there are always ways around things among others.

Research states that the increased pressure can have adverse effects on young people’s mental health, leading to problems including self-harm, eating disorders and depression. Recently, students not only face pressure from the exams but also social media, where. Everyone else seems to be doing better and managing their stress. However, people don’t view things the same way and we are all different in the way we handle things.

During the lead up to the exams, the pressure to do well in these exams results in the perception that you constantly have to be studying. While studying is great and necessary for these exams, studying 24/7 isn’t ideal.

My advice to students would be to take breaks between study times. While studying is an important part of preparation, it does not have to be a tireless thing. For example, even soccer players take time off to rest their muscles, so you should also rest your most important muscle, the brain. Don’t feel guilty about setting some time aside to relax, watch your favourite tv shows, go for a walk, play football, anything just get moving. Make sure to have a variety and do what you enjoy. Research has shown that without physical activity, the brain starts to slow down so if you are not moving around and staying fit, the brain isn’t fit for study.

There’s no denying that this week is extremely stressful and so it is even more important for students to take care of both their physical and mental health.

Here are some tips to help you relieve stress during the exams:

  1. Get some good sleep. I know how tempting it can be to cram all night long but trust yourself, you’ve been studying all year.
  2. Study and Practise in Exam Conditions. Practising in exam conditions allows you to fine-tune your exam techniques and helps with time management.
  3. Progress and not perfection should be the aim. No one is perfect and no two people learn or write exams the same way. Don’t demand too much from yourself. When you fall short, get back up, dust yourself and start again.
  4. Something that isn’t emphasised enough is watch your posture. You spend so many hours sitting down studying, leaning over while writing and researching so be mindful of not slouching.
  5. Exercise, this is both beneficial for your body and mind. It also helps to relieve stress.
  6. Studies suggest that brief meditation sessions can give you a sense of calm and emotional well-being, and it reduces stress by clearing away the information overload that builds up daily.

Remember: It’s normal to be anxious. It’s a part of the exams. Don’t be scared to ask for help. It’s important to have at least one adult or friend that you can talk to, whether a parent, relative or friend. Even talking to a trained person like a guidance counsellor or Psychotherapist can help relieve stress.

Here at MyMind, we have counsellors and psychotherapists who can help you to manage the stress while teaching you effective techniques to manage your stress and anxiety.

To book an appointment at MyMind, call us at 076 680 1060 or email hq@mymind.org

Written by MyMind Intern Cynthia Ebere-Anaba