You have been there. I have been there. All of us have been there at different points in our life!
It is the easiest to get stressed out under the burden of exam preparation. Mostly since it comes so naturally to all of us.
As a teacher I’ve seen many of my UPSC students started getting a lot of stress and getting panic even during practice tests. And because of exam stress their whole year of preparation goes to waste.
But there are ways you can positively mitigate exam stress. From my years of practice and conclusive research based on other people’s experiences, I will share in this article 14 powerful ways to beat the heat during exam season!
1. It All Starts With An Uncluttered Space
Clutter, confusion, chaos! Three words that are highly interdependent, and that which you must avoid to be able to concentrate on studying.
It is a scientifically proven fact that clutter around you creates a lot of confusion through distraction, which ultimately leads to chaos in your brain, as it is not able to focus strictly on your studies.
So, get up and clear your study desk of all things unnecessary. Store away stationery in table drawers and arrange extra books on a shelf. Wipe your table clean and rearrange it with only a table lamp, required books and limited stationery.
It will be better if you clean your room as well, and help get in some fresh air into it.
2. Pick a relaxing hobby in your free time
Reading and music are two great ways to relax your mind. Reading as a hobby helps bring down stress by at least 68%. If you are not much of a reader, you can listen to some melodious music.
I will like to remind you not to put on techno or any all that modern high-bass music, as that will only tire your ears and brain! Not that I have something against bass, but honestly, it does very little in calming you down!
3. Cut down on artificial sugar
Sugar spikes stress and vice versa. Now that you are doing all it takes to keep stress under control, why not do a bit more to manage your sugar intake as well.
Here’s how you can cut down on your daily sugar dose: –
- Never skip breakfast. Include high protein food in this meal, like oats, nuts, and eggs.
- Stop eating sugar-based cereals and candies. Eat fruits twice or thrice daily to curb sugar cravings.
- Stop drinking sugary sodas and juices.
- Eat at least 4 servings of fresh vegetables daily
4. Your phone is giving you stress
Cellphones cause stress and negatively impact mental well being!
Here are smarter ways to use your smartphone:
Put it on airplane mode or silent when you are studying.
Out of sight, out of mind: Keep your phone far away where you cannot see/reach it during study hours
Strictly avoid using phone one hour before going to bed.
Avoid checking your phone during study breaks, Grab a small healthy snack, water or take a walk instead.
5. Teach yourself better time management
Time is a crucial factor in elevated levels of exam stress. The more your brain tells you that you are running out of time, the more apprehensive and stressed out you are.
Here’s how you can make way for effective time management: –
- Calculate how much time you have at your disposal.
- Make a schedule beforehand of activities that must be completed.
- Make place for a break of 30 minutes in between study sessions.
- Do not overwork your brain with continuous study hours. After every one hour, rest!
- No matter what, try to stick to your schedule.
- Sleep on time at night for 8 hours essentially.
- Keep a fixed routine for everything you do in a day – waking up, food time, work/study, leisure and sleep!
6. Start journalizing your worries
Writing down your negative feelings in a journal reduces stress.
Take out half an hour every day to sit down in a comfortable place, and write down your thoughts in a journal as and how they spring up in your head. This practice is a proven method to relieve anxiety!
7. Stop multitasking
Multitasking increases your heart rate and cause your blood pressure to rise, all of which leads to stress. Rather than performing average by doing multiple tasks at once, try concentrating on one thing at a time and see the magic happen.
A bad practice observed among students is to study with noise in the background. This could be anything from a television to radio to listening to your favorite music while studying!
8. Sleep well for no stress
Sleep cycles greatly affect your stress levels! It has become an unfortunate trend among many these days to sleep late and sleep less, both of which harm your body and mind.
No matter what, always go to bed at a set time every night, and wake up after 8 hours of scientifically required everyday.
Sleep disorders are real, and once formed, it will be very difficult for you to break the sleep-stress cycle!
- Start with turning off your cell phone an hour prior to bedtime.
- Make your room soundproof and light proof before going to bed
- Take long deep breaths.
- A bath before bed will help you sleep better.
9. Practice positive affirmations
I know this sounds silly, but just try this for one week and you will start believing in the power of positive affirmations.
Look at yourself in the mirror every morning, and tell yourself the following out loud repeatedly: –
- I am confident
- I am focused.
- I am ready.
- I will continue to work hard.
- I have what it takes.
- I can do this.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself
With everyone right from your parents to peers putting pressure on you to bring home only excellent results, you really do not have to be hard on yourself as well!
Practice self-compassion in the following ways: –
- Remind yourself that you are capable and deserving of good things.
- Set realistic and achievable goals.
- Do not try and compare yourself with your counterparts.
- Write down your achievements. It will remind you how good you are.
- Believe in yourself.
11. Exercise and stretch regularly
Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that elevates happiness and brings down stress.
- You can start with a daily walking session in the morning and evening for at least an hour.
- If walking doesn’t get you all pumped up, join a gym nearby and get into some high intensity training!
- You can also play a sport involving high physical movements instead of a gym or walk.
- Cycling is a great option as well.
No matter what activity you choose, just ensure it is something that you enjoy doing. If nothing else, a daily brisk walk regime could be followed.
Stretch daily to relieve tension in your muscles. Start with a good after-wake up morning stretch. Stretching in your study breaks is a great way to beat muscle stress.
12. Learn to breathe properly
Believe it or not, we all are breathing incorrectly. A good breath is long and slow. Practice breathing exercises everyday to bring down stress considerably.
Breathing exercises increases oxygen in your blood and makes it flow faster to your brain and other parts of your body.
You can start with a 10 minute breathing exercise right on your bed after you wake up in the morning.
13. Get your daily dose of vitamin C
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid reduces blood pressure and cortisol, which are both signs of high stress.
Since the human body doesn’t produce vitamin C naturally, you must include the sources of Vitamin C in your daily diet:
These are a good source of vitamin C
Amla Juice, Guava, Capsicum, Kiwi, Strawberries, Orange, Papaya, Broccoli, Tomato
14. Do not concentrate on perfection, but progress
Do not indulge in self-criticism and self-pity. You must stay mindful of your reality, and the practicality of the situation. It is alright to not achieve your target at times. That in no way means you are incapable or not good enough.
Always focus on the progress you are making, and not on perfection.
Dealing with exam stress is not a one-time thing. You must make these practices a part and parcel of your everyday life. Trust me, these are just as result-oriented as they are practical.
If you have any questions or thoughts to share, do leave them in the comments below. Good Luck!
Author: Divyanshu Jangid