31 October, 2017

Anxiety and Exams

How are you feeling about your upcoming exams?  Are you someone who feels like they have it sorted, or does the very thought of exams create an overwhelming feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach?

I confess when I sat exams, I was more in the latter category.  Where I could, I chose papers that were 100% internal to avoid exams altogether, that’s how much I detested them.  The irony was though, as soon as I sat down in the exam room, looked at the exam paper and realised I had done the work, I actually didn’t mind them!  It was the build-up, and not completely knowing if I was preparing for the right thing that I found stressful.

I came across an article in The Muse recently (by Melody Wilding), which I felt could be helpful for dealing with exam anxiety.  It’s called 5 Coping Strategies for When You’re Feeling Anxious at Work.  Even though it is ‘work based’, there are a number of ideas in the article, that I feel are particularly relevant/helpful.

Create conditions for success – definitely definitely definitely definitely eat and sleep properly!  I cannot emphasise this enough.  I would always lose weight around exams because, at times, I would be too stressed to eat.  However, I always paid for it the next day with tiredness.  Our bodies need fuel to push through this busy, stressful time, so definitely make the time to eat properly (include veges!).   Sleep is also is crucial.  Remember, everything seems better after a good night’s sleep, so try try try to avoid all-nighters.

Have go-to grounding techniques – this is where our self-awareness needs to come to the fore.  I think we can all get into bad head spaces around study / exam time (for various reasons).  One great suggestion is to ring a friend or family member to have a chat with.  Make sure however that you choose wisely.  Go to those who can put things into perspective for you, and calm you down (if required).  Do not go to someone who could potentially make things worse.

One of my techniques was watching bloopers of my favourite comedy shows on YouTube. A good way to take your mind off things and have light relief at the same time. (You need to time this activity though, say 10 minutes. YouTube can be a vortex in which you can lose yourself for hours!).

Lastly, a good ol’ favourite… walking!  Even if it is just a walk around the block.  Seriously, fresh air can do wonders!

However, the most important thing to know is that there are services on campus that are there to help if you are feeling tooooo overwhelmed and anxious, ie: Student Health and Student Counselling.  Do not be afraid to go and see them.  It is why they are there… and they want to help you.

Please also check out other blogs too related to this topic.

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Advice, Miscellaneous, Personal development