Stress-busting tips for exam and assessment time

Stress Free Student

Exam and assessment time can be stressful, but there are a number of simple techniques which can make a big difference to your stress levels and in turn, your productivity and performance. Read on to find out more:

Getting organised

It’s important to set yourself realistic revision goals that allow you to prioritise your time. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress, and you can help to reduce anxiety by ensuring that the really important stuff is being covered.

A revision or study timetable can help. Try writing a daily ‘to do’ list and tick off those you complete so that you can see your progress. Break your study into small chunks and include key dates for each assessment and the topics that need to be covered.

Creating a daily routine and sticking to it can help you feel a lot more in control.

Healthy habits

What we eat can have an impact on the way we feel as well as affecting our physical health.

Try to eat regularly and choose foods that release energy slowly to help to keep your sugar levels steady. Avoid junk food, alcohol and too much caffeine. Try swapping coffee for herbal tea or water, which will keep your body hydrated and allow you to cope better with stress.

Take a break

Remember to take regular breaks during your day. Aim for around 10 minutes for every hour and a half of study. Move around, make a drink – whatever works to take your mind off your studies and help you to relax.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing can create a state of restfulness, and as you learn these techniques, you can use them to reduce your stress levels and create a calm mind and body.

Try to take some time out to do things you enjoy every day, and reward yourself for doing the work you need to. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive – just something as simple as a favourite meal or watching TV.

Reconnect and focus

The quickest way to reduce stress is by taking a deep breath and using your senses—what you see, hear, taste and touch. It could be a view out of the window, listening to a favourite piece of music, a favourite scent, tasting a favourite food, or hugging a pet.

Learn to relieve stress in the moment and you’ll be able to relax and focus yourself. The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover what works best for you.

Keep on moving

Exercise is a proven stress-buster that can help give your energy levels a boost and clear your mind, whether out and about or a home workout.

Any physical activity can help burn away tension and stress, but rhythmic activities such as walking, running, dancing, cycling, tai chi and aerobics can be especially effective. Adding an element of mindfulness by consciously paying attention to your body and the physical sensations while exercising can also help to reduce the negative thoughts that often accompany periods of stress.

Try to get enough sleep

Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed the thing you need most is sleep. Allow half an hour or so to wind down from studying or screen time before going to bed. This will help you to get a good night of sleep.

Still struggling to go sleep? Put on some calming music and turn your phone off so you won’t be disturbed. Then slowly tense and release one muscle in your body at a time, and you should soon be able to drift off.

Talk it out

Take the time to connect with friends and family. Make the most of any study groups and friends from your course if you’re struggling with a piece of work, or just want to talk something over.

Making time to socialise is really important. It can help you to relax, and having a good laugh is an excellent stress reliever.

Reduce social media use

Try reducing your social media use for a few days and it could work wonders for your stress levels.

Scrolling through your social media feed when trying to revise can be a real distraction and taking a break will help you to focus and be more productive. You’ll also reduce your exposure to bad news, which in itself could help you feel more positive.

Tackle negative thoughts

Putting yourself under a lot of pressure will only have a negative effect on how you’re feeling.

You could consider trying a stress & anxiety companion app to calm the mind and change negative thoughts, or have a listen to this audio guide on beating unhelpful thinking.

The key to good stress management is building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook. Take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise.

Have a look at our menu of self-help resources that cover a number of different topics including anxiety, depression, and stress.

Reminder: How to access support

If you are feeling anxious, stressed or just need to talk, our Wellbeing Advice and Guidance team are here for you. They offer appointments Monday to Friday, with daily drop-In sessions in the Alsop Building every morning between 10.30am and 1pm.

Click here for more information or to get in touch.