Exam stress is a huge problem among students. It can not only affect their studies but also their personality. Here’s what Dr. Kersi Chavda, consultant psychiatrist at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, has to say about exam stress. He also shares some tips to manage exam stress, push away the negative thoughts and excel in your studies.
Every student will face exam stress at some time or another in his life. He may experience it regularly or once in a while, but almost invariably there will be stress. This stress is actually not contingent on whether the person is intelligent or not. The only parameter which seems to make a difference to the level of stress is the amount of studying that has taken place prior to the exam. Is every kind of stress bad? No, a certain amount of stress can provide a last-minute push that actually helps one do better and provides a momentum that is required. This is called “Eustress”. However, when there is too much stress, thoughts become negative and actual anxiety occurs. The inappropriate situation of “distress” causes the problems that we are seeing on a regular basis. The difference between a student who feels overwhelmed by negative emotions while studying, and the one who uses it as a stepping stone to success is the actual difference between the success and failure. There are some methods that can be used to push these negative feelings to one side and concentrate on your learning goals.
This is a good way to “recharge the batteries”. It is well known that some amount of exercise allows the brain to relax and actually serves as a conduit to cause an increase in concentration again. However, a break should not be too long drawn out. A good rule of thumb is about twenty minutes of relaxation after every two hours of study.
Create a personal study plan
It is essential to make a proper plan for the study. Give more time to disliked or difficult subjects so that they become less difficult and to try to stick to this plan. Keep a few hours free every weekend to do all the pending works, which you have to complete.
Get done with the difficult subjects first
I am emphasizing that it is necessary to spend more time on disliked or difficult subjects. Students usually avoid these, or keep it till the end and this is not a good idea at all.
Get enough sleep: This is also essential and often not too much attention is paid to this. The brain will not be able to concentrate without an adequate amount of rest. It is important to have enough rest and relaxation for proper studying.
This, in today’s generation, means staying away from devices!! Disconnect from Facebook, whatsapp, Instagram, snapchat and other social media platforms. Be aware that these are distractions that really serve no purpose. Give yourself a “digital detox.” It is crazy the amount of time that can be used more productively when the phone/ computer/ ipad/ laptop is kept away.
Avoid comparing your abilities with your mates
This is a useless exercise, which can cause tension and distress. Some kids actually exaggerate the amount of work that they have put in and those who listen to their imagined abilities can get extremely stressed out by what they hear.
This is a must. Avoid too much junk and do realize that all the energy that is necessary for studying processes comes from food and nutrition. Starving or eating less, non-nutritive food stuff is certainly not going to be of benefit.
Steer clear of exam post-mortems
One cannot change what has happened and it only causes more stress if you find out that silly mistakes have been committed.
Try relaxation exercises with visualization techniques
Try to physically tense and then relax every muscle in the body and then visualize yourself appearing for the exam. Go through the motions of entering the classroom, papers being distributed, settling down to write, etc. When this is done over a number of times, the mind gets desensitized to the stress of appearing for the exams and when you actually appear for the exam, it will be a cakewalk.
Do get a sense of perspective
Realize that though exams are important, they are not the end of the world. There are thousands of people who have done badly in exams but became very successful later on in life. Doing well in exams is certainly not a guarantee for future success.
Seek help when necessary
Meet a mental health professional if there is severe anxiety and you feel you are just not coping effectively or if you feel like hurting yourself or running away. This needs to be dealt with by a professional. You should not feel bad about meeting a mental health professional, they are there to help you out. So do not be tardy in this.
Realize that life is always worth living, and enjoying in spite of exams!