I just got home from presenting to the year 12 TEE students at Kalamunda SHS (great bunch of students). For a group of students whose exams start next Tuesday and who have had tests and assignments due in all week, they seemed to be doing really well! I was impressed!
Whilst the focus of my talk was on study skill strategies today, I feel they may have benefited as well from learning some simple stress management strategies.
Let’s face it, you can’t learn effectively if you’re stressed out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stress makes you stupid.
So here are 3 simple ways students who have exams coming up can decrease their anxiety and stress levels.
1. Breathe deeply
This isn’t just any old breathing. I’m talking about deep breathing. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about the amount of study you need to do and whether you’ll be able to get it all done in time before the exam, I want you to stop. Find a quiet place. Sit up right. Breathe in deeply for the count of 5 (counting in your head 1…2…3…4….5), pause by holding your breath for 5 (1…2…3…4…5) and breathe out for the count of 5 (1….2…3…4…5). Keep doing this (as monotonous as it may seem) for 2 – 3 minutes. Just trust me on this one. Do it. It will calm you down and you’ll be able to think clearer and work more effectively.
In my 7.5 years of study at university this has been the best way for me to decrease my stress levels. One hour at the local gym everyday during exams has made the biggest difference to me. Of course, you’ll find yourself thinking ‘But I don’t have time to exercise! I must study!’ but that’s just flawed thinking. Engaging in one hour (even just 30 minutes) of exercise will be an investment in your studies.
I recommend that you find a friend who is going through the same painful experience of doing exams and go exercise with them. Just make sure you don’t spend the whole time being negative about how crap it is that you need to do these exams, trying to predict the exam questions, etc. We all know and accept that exams aren’t fun to take. Why waste your time dwelling on this? You just want to get through this tough period. So by cutting out the negative talk you are ensuring exercise is an uplifting experience for you. Not a downer.
3. Take breaks
I recommend putting a timer on for 45 minutes, study for that period of time and then when 45 minutes is up, take a break. Should you go on facebook? A chat program? You could, but what will be better is to do some push ups/star jumps, go outside and get some fresh air….you want to get the blood circulating throughout your body. This will help to sharpen your focus and concentration for the next study session.
For some general tips on preparing for exams, click here.
I wish you all the best of luck (luck isn’t really the right word…but it will do!) with your exams. I know it’s a painful, stressful time. My advice is simple: just get through it. I don’t want to bag the school system, but learning actually becomes a lot more fun once you leave high school (well, that was certainly the case for me). Hang in there folks!