Beating Exam Stress

This is the most stressful time of the year for most students: you may not feel prepared for the upcoming English exams; you may feel overwhelmed and tired; you may feel pressure to succeed and become a straight-A student; you may not know how to overcome exam stress... 

OK, you're in the right place. Check out these tips and pieces of sound advice that can help you to deal with stress during exam time. Let's get started!

⭕ TAKE a short walk

Fresh air can perk you up, tame stress and help you to clear your head and unwind after studying. And let's not forget that exercise always releases feel-good hormones and brightens our mood! 

In addition, a short walk increases your exposure to sunlight. This means that it increases your serotonin levels, too. And you do know that serotonin can create this perfect feeling of euphoria, right? So, get out and go for a walk... but remember to come back and keep studying – you must take a test, after all!

⭕ TAKE a breath

If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you are familiar with the shocking feeling of shortness of breath. Well, the easiest and quickest way to calm down, relax and reduce your blood pressure is to slowly breathe in and out. 

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in your body and reduce cortisol levels. And breathing exercises are easy to learn; you can get started with the Box Breathing Technique. Just google it!

⭕ TAKE care of yourself

A balanced diet and good sleep patterns improve concentration and reduce stress. And while we are constantly told that junk food can influence our physical and mental health, we may not realise that sleep plays a critical role too. Avoid burning the candle at both ends and always remember that both the hours and the quality of sleep matter.

⭕ TAKE the time to declutter

When it comes to studying and preparing for exams, it's not just about what you do, but about where you do it, too. You've certainly heard that a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind. Having an organised workspace can help you to focus and feel more relaxed. So, throw away anything you don't need, use desk organisers and clean up your workspace at the end of each day! 

It also goes without saying that during study time you should avoid distractions and temptations. Let's make sure that you won't waste your time browsing through social media and checking your phone every 10 minutes!

⭕ TAKE a break

Doing something you like or just hanging out with friends can get your mind off the exams, right? But you should also take some short breaks. 

Taking a break after studying for 45-60 minutes can help you to concentrate and lower levels of exam-related anxiety. You are not a robot and you can't study for hours on end – nor should you!

⭕ TAKE a shower (and sing)

Music can work wonders too when it comes to exam stress. You just have to create a playlist that you find relaxing and uplifting when you need a break. Bear in mind that while music preferences vary, classical music has been shown to help when we get the jitters! 

And did we mention that singing (even in the shower) is a natural antidepressant and can have a positive and calming effect? Aha, so you don't have to be a professional singer to sing your heart out and trigger the release of endorphins!

⭕ TAKE it together

Learning English is a journey; and sharing your thoughts, the pressure you feel and your study struggles with peers and other students can make it so much easier! When your exams are approaching, the people who are going to sit the same exam can understand you better than anyone else. 

Having the support of family members and friends is important too. Being with people who care about you when you struggle can create the supportive system that you need.

⭕ TAKE heart

What can lift your spirits? Positive affirmations and self-talk usually help us all to tackle this irritating feeling of butterflies in our stomach. OK, we get it; telling yourself how good you are may seem a bizarre habit. But think about it... 

We all have some negative thoughts. What if we thought of everything we have already studied and done successfully instead? A positive thought such as 'I have studied hard and I'll succeed!' can reduce adrenalin levels and improve your performance.

⭕ TAKE your time

When preparing for exams, it's important to do whatever works for you. Spend as much time as you need in studying. Pick up the pace slowly and eventually you'll become more prepared to tackle tough tasks and practice tests without feeling overwhelmed. Everyone learns according to a different timeline. Just be realistic and bear in mind that you can't learn everything! 

It's also important that you learn how to plan ahead, avoid procrastination and use your time wisely. Make a to-do list, set strict deadlines (that you'll actually stick to) and start achieving your mini goals!

⭕ TAKE it easy

It's a fact that we are all different. And this means that we relax differently. Some students like popping bubble wrap. Others unwind with aromatherapy or a head massage. Some English learners calm down when embracing the British habit of drinking lots of tea (actually, there have been studies that show tea can indeed relieve stress)! 

So, stop comparing yourself to others, do whatever helps you to feel better and focus on your unique needs and ways to tackle stress. 

Finally, find out what you should do the day before your exams to increase your chances of success!

What do you do to deal with exam stress? Do you use any other techniques? If you have something to share with our community, we are all ears!

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