No one understands more than another university student how difficult exam season is—it’s often challenging to manage stress while studying for exams. Increased levels of stress at the end of the academic term often result in worse performance on exams as you end up focusing more on the anxiety you feel rather than your studies. That being said, you’re more than just your grades, and the impact of high levels of stress on the body can cause effects ranging from acute problems such as acne to long-term illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. As a third-year health sciences major, I'm going to walk you through six ways to de-stress and stay healthy during exam season.
1. Take Naps
I don't know about you, but I love naps. Not only do they revitalize me after long periods of study, but they’re also a great way to remember information. Naps increase memory, decrease stress, and leave you in a better state of mind. So, next time you are starting to feel stressed out while studying, consider taking a short nap lasting maybe an hour. When you wake up, you'll likely find that the concepts you've been studying have solidified or you’re better able to make connections. Not only are naps a great way to relax and take a break but they're also a non-traditional study method—in moderation, of course.
2. Eat Healthily
It may be easier to make exam season mac and cheese season, but your brain, body, and stress levels need something healthier. Cooking up healthy food is a great way to take a break from studying while making a meal that will fuel your brain. I have even found that the smell of a home-cooked healthy meal can relieve some of my own anxiety levels. Some easy ways to eat healthily during exams include drinking lots of water, eating foods packed with antioxidants (such as berries and nuts), as well as foods that are rich in vitamins (such as avocado).
3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
When you’re more organized, so is your brain. Making schedules is key to keeping you and your studying on track. I personally love not only the process of making a color-coded calendar of the upcoming examination season but also the feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing off a day or event that was stressing me out. Calendars are a great way to de-stress as they are a creative method of mapping out how you’re going to succeed within your courses. Furthermore, when you’re studying, scheduling out your days can help keep you on track and decrease stress levels. Personally, I tend to schedule out my courses chapter by chapter to ensure that I cover all of the material before the exam, while still allowing time to memorize any specific concepts.
4. Take a Break and Explore Your City
If you are anything like me, during the school year I hardly ever find time to leave campus and explore the city that I call home for eight months out of the year. This being said, exams are spread out over a period of time (at least here in Canada), and students do not have to attend any additional courses during this period. Exploring your city is a great way to unwind, get outdoors, absorb some vitamin D, and take in the fresh air. You might even find that when you’re exploring your city, you’re able to make connections to your course work that will benefit you in terms of studying. Getting out of the library or your room is a great method of de-stressing, enabling you to take some time for yourself and feel more at home in your home away from home.
5. Study with Friends
I find that studying gets boring. Boredom opens me up to distraction and leads to additional stress about upcoming exams. To keep myself on task, I try to study with friends as often as I can. It's great to have an accountability buddy to keep you on track when you begin to get distracted (social media is a killer). In addition to accountability, friends who are in the same course as you can act as additional resources to help you get through material you may be unsure about. Friends who are in different majors are beneficial, too. Having friends who are studying concepts outside your major provides you with the opportunity to explain the material to them. If you're able to have them understand the important concepts, then you're probably on the right path in terms of studying.
6. Remember Your “Why”
Exams are difficult but, in the end, they’re worth it if you're able to achieve your personal goals. Sometimes while studying, it becomes difficult to remember why you are spending hours on end staring at pages in a textbook. This causes a loss in motivation and increases your stress levels. Take some time during your exam week to reflect on why you first applied to your school and what your personal goals are for your major or your life. You can do this through journaling or making a vision board. Personally, I went into health sciences to become a pediatrician and help others. I tend to put up images of what being a doctor means to me on a cork board to keep myself motivated during exams. I find this is a de-stressing mechanism because it boosts my confidence levels, making me feel more prepared and energized to do my best on the exams.
How do you de-stress and relax during exams or before tests? Help your fellow students by adding some suggestions in the comments below.
About the AuthorMore Content by Alexandra Welten