Stress-busting tips for exam and assessment time

Stress Free

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.

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. Read on to find out more:

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

Read these revision tips from our KnowHow team for more advice.

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. Keeping your body hydrated will allow you to cope better with stress. Avoid junk food, and don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping.

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 also help to create a state of restfulness and reduce your stress levels.

Try to take some time out to do things you enjoy every day, and reward yourself for doing the work you need to do.

Manage stress in the moment

As the stress response is largely physical, our body is one of the first things to be affected.

Controlled breathing, deep muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, and relaxing activity can all help reduce tension and switch off some of the physical signs of stress. 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 won’t make your stress disappear, but it can reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling It can also help to clear your thoughts and let you deal with things more calmly.

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.

Talk it out

Take the time to connect with friends and family. Make the most of any study groups and friends from your course. Making time to socialise is really important. It can help you to relax, and having a good laugh is an excellent stress reliever.

Take a break from social media

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.

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.

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.

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 Student Support team are here for you.

Our team of Wellbeing Advisers can provide initial advice and support on a wide range of issues that might be affecting your general welfare.

The team are based in the Alsop Building on University Square. You can book an appointment using the online booking system or contact the team via email on

For more information on the support available via the Student Service teams click here.