Yes. Unfortunately it’s that time of year again. The dreaded exam period. Whether it be Highers, Advanced Highers, A-Levels or uni exams, it really is a horrible and stressful time. Especially when all you want to think about is sunning on a beach with your pals or wearing flowers in your hair at a festival. NOT reasons why the pope preached about a crusade or did women really have a renaissance.
I’m about to sit the end of semester two exams for university but I’ve always found exams really stressful from the time I started with Standard Grades. The pressure is not something I deal with well and fear of failing is something I struggle with.
One important thing to remember is as much as we are led to believe it: exams really aren’t everything and failing will not be the end of the world. I personally cannot wait for this little period to be over so I can be all happy and chill again. HURRY UP 25th OF MAY.
As much as we hate it, it’s something we have to go through so I’ve written down some tips on how to de-stress yourself and ways to chill.
1. Take a break and do something easy.
I find just taking even 30 minutes away from revision is enough to calm me down. Even if you start going into major panic mode and feel you simply can’t take a break because you haven’t done enough to warrant one, DO IT. Take 30 minutes away from your desk. Sit in the kitchen. Go for a short walk. Make a cup of tea and do some colouring in. Stay away from technology. Unless that technology is a cheeky wee game of Sims. I am guilty of this. Maybe even have a 30 minute nap if that will help clear your head but remember to set an alarm.
2. Try and do some exercise.
I know this sounds ridiculous as no one really likes exercising anyway and you simply don’t have time to do something like exercise. But you should do it. Get up early and escape to the gym for an hour. Or the pool. Or for a run or a walk. Or go to a class. Do something. Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel happier. And feeling happier, especially during exam period, is good.
3. Try and eat healthy.
Filling myself up with junk food and chocolate is ALL I want to do during exam period. But afterwards, I always feel gross and unhealthy and a bit sick, which doesn’t help but only adds to my stress levels. So making the effort to eat healthily to feel good about myself doesn’t hurt. A treat once in a while is so much more fun than a constant binge anyway. Personally I always feel more awake after I eat healthy food whilst I feel sleepier after junk food so that’s always a bonus.
4. Live on a schedule.
I find it really useful when I study to live by a schedule and not have my whole life consumed by revision. I try to get up a certain time each day, go to the gym at a certain time and start studying at a certain time. Unless I take a stress break, I try to eat at certain times and get enough sleep each night. It’s only for a few weeks so it’s worth it. Plus I wish I could always live this WITHOUT the extra exam stress. It would be so great.
5. Study in a way that works for you.
I personally adore mind maps, post-it notes and cue cards. I like revision lists, organised notebooks and a to-do list to smash every day. That is what works for me. But just do you when it comes to revision. Don’t stress about doing it wrong, just keep working on getting it right.
6. Go to bed at a sensible time.
If you are a night owl, make sure you get enough sleep. Being sleep-deprived is definitely one of the worst things to happen during exam period so preventing this can be extremely helpful towards your productivity. I find going to bed at a sensible time (between 10 and 11) means I get a good night’s sleep which means I’m not exhausted for the next day. I also like wearing nice comfy chill pyjamas for a little while whilst I wind down my studying for the day because the minute I get into those bad boys I start to switch off.
7. Dress for the day.
If you study best whilst wearing pyjamas or sweats, then just do you. But for me, I like to look ready for the outside world so I can tackle it from my desk. I personally prefer to study at home (occasionally I venture out for a change of scenery) as I like my own comfort zone and don’t like the distraction provided by people-watching. I’m the worst for that. I like to get up and dressed, put some make-up on if I’m feeling it and settling down for the day.
8. Have snacks and water set aside for a little boost.
When you’re not feeling a break because you are in the swing of things and don’t want to break your stride, don’t panic that you aren’t sticking to the aforementioned routine importance. Keep some quick snacks and a water cup on hand so you can munch whilst you study. Keeping hydrated is also super important as it will help you concentrate and your mind focussed. Well it does for me anyway. I don’t know if that’s a scientific fact or not.
9. Have something absolutely fucking awesome planned for when it’s all over.
Having something to look forward to when it’s all over. For me, I’ll have six days before I jet off to the Bahamas with one of my friends after my last exam and we’re planning of having a “last meal” in the flat after everyone’s exams are over. Having things like this to look forward to and motivate yourself forwards is good. Remember: the stress won’t last forever. And just breathe.
I’m off to practice what I preach and knuckle down into the plays of Plautus. See you all on the other side.