How To Relieve Exam Stress

College Exam StressExam time is here and stress levels are up. You’re stuck indoors hitting the books, writing papers, preparing projects. Are you also under STRESS?

With the importance of exams it is understandable that you are stressed. However you need to be operating at optimal academic performance and this can be hard when you are under stress. Remember stress is a result of the “fight or flight” syndrome. When confronted with something stressful your body reacts. You just need to understand this is a normal reaction and take steps to deal with it.

Yes You Can!

Believing in yourself, that you can pass the exam will help. If you were not capable you would not be in college. Don’t let the little nags of doubt overcome you. They are natural anytime you are facing a challenge. Rather than focusing on how bad it will be for you if you perform poorly, instead focus on how good it will be when you do well. A lot can be said for positive thinking and there is no sense in adding undo stress by questioning your ability.

It is normal to feel nervous before and during an exam. Don’t let it get to a near state of panic though. This is counterproductive to good performance. Just close your eyes and take long slow breaths. Doing so will calm your nerves and help you get back your focus.

Don’t Cram For Exams

Research has shown that cramming at the last minute for exams is not productive. That does not mean that you should not study, but all nighters (See post How To Pull All Nighters) are not a good idea. Long hours of cramming are not likely to yield any results except the additional stress you add to your body and mind by lack of sleep and poor nutrition.

Instead of cramming, review your notes, read, or do what you would normally do to study for a test. You have likely have already retained all of the knowledge you will need. Instead plan on getting a good nights sleep. A rested body and an alert mind will be put you in a state of optimal academic performance.

As soon as you feel you are losing your concentration level, take a power nap or go for a walk. Get out and get your head clear. Go grab a quick snack (healthy). When you come back you will feel refreshed and ready to continue.

Maintain a Normal Life

One of the best ways you can relieve the stress of exams is to maintain a normal social life. After studying you should reward yourself. Go out with friends, get a good meal or however you like to get some downtime and enjoy yourself. It will do wonders to relieve your stress, but be sure you get back in time to get a good nights sleep.

Eat Well , Exercise and Sleep

Food is energy for the brain so be sure and eat well. Energy drinks are NOT food. In fact they can do more harm than good. Sure they will keep you awake, but that is not what you want to be doing. The primary source of “energy” is caffeine that will wear off and then you will have a crash. It is best to minimize your caffeine intake to normal or even less so you will be able to get a good nights sleep. Instead try brain foods such as bananas, other fruits and foods high in carbs.

Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress. Shooting some basketball with friends or working out at the gym will help raise your energy level and reduce stress. Get away from the books for a while. Even a walk around campus will raise your energy level.

Research has also shown that retention of what you learn requires sleep. If you cram all night and get little or no sleep you are not likely to retain much because you brain has not had the sleep you need to file away the knowledge. Having your body rested and your mind alert for an exam will put you in the best position to do well.

It Will Be Over Soon!

Nothing bad lasts forever and neither do exams. Take heart that they will be over soon and just the thought of that should give you some relief. Just try and maintain that positive “YES I CAN” attitude. Stress is all in your mind and the more you fuel it the worse it will become.

Yes, exam time is stressful, but you will survive. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as you think it will be. The longer you are in college and the more exams you take the more you will learn about how to deal with them. Do you have any tips for relieving exam stress?


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