Managing your exam stress
Don't let exam time blues get on top of you!
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With less than two months to go to the exams, I don’t know about the other Leaving and Junior Cert students, but my stress levels are reaching a dangerous point! The Easter break was a good time to wrap up any outside-of-school activities and now, some serious work (if it hasn’t started yet) should really be your focus for the next few weeks.
These exams are important, and some stress is good, however if it turns to anxiety and panic then you need to step back and relax a little. Exams are not the end of the world. For me, staying positive and locking myself in a strict eating/working/resting routine helps to stay focused. Here are my tips for surviving the next few weeks and then flying through the exams.
Try going to bed at the same time and waking up roughly at the same time, it helps! Some people prefer working late into the evening, but when you have to wake up at seven for school, that might not be the wisest. Plan your day and make sure to fit your study around your sleep, not your sleep around your study, and you’ll be fine. 8-9 hours is best.
I find that looking at my pile of books/notes is too much, it feels like there is no way that I will ever get through it all in two months. Instead, I make lists of topics/chapters in each subject that I want to tackle each week, I also break them up into chunks of exam questions and notes to read that will take no longer than one hour to complete. Then, I count all the tasks up and see how many can I do that week and how many to leave for the weekend. It makes work more manageable for me. If you need help to get organised with study, give the ‘list’ system a try!
Taking a twenty minute break every forty minutes, or else a half hour break every hour works well for me. I find that sitting with a book or exam question for more than an hour at a time is torture! You lose concentration and your will to live. It’s better to take a break, either frequent short breaks or less often, but for longer periods of time. Allowing your brain to rest helps to maintain concentration during study sessions, and a break gives you an opportunity to grab some food or get some air. If you want to keep up with friends, I’d recommend ringing them during a break, rather than going through Facebook. You’ll see that twenty minutes spent on Facebook flies by and it can be hard to pull away, so try to resist the temptation until your study is done.
Don’t forget to eat!
A proper diet goes without saying. I find that being stressed makes my appetite go down and I’m always tempted to just skip meals, but I try my best not to. Instead, I become conscious of what I eat and when, and I make sure that each time I make the effort to prepare a meal for myself it's well balanced, some fruit/vegetables, some protein and some carbs, for example a tuna and tomato sandwich or some steamed vegetables (microwave-cooked from frozen are super easy to prepare!) and some chicken and rice. Try to stay off the coffee and chocolate, but it's okay to indulge from time to time
Well, this is the one area I think I need your help more than you need mine! I think distracting yourself from study is one thing, but having proper escapes is another. With the sunny spells that we're getting recently, a cycle around a park or a walk with a friend can be a great form of escape, or else doing some meditation or watching your favourite film. When you're caught studying 24/7, finding time to rest can become difficult, nevertheless you need to remember that you are doing this for yourself, so don't kill yourself with stress and study. We all need some time out for ourselves every now and then and the exams don't change that, that take care of yourself.