Do you have exams coming up? It is always easier to be successful when you feel good, less anxious, and less stressed. Whether people admit it or not, everyone feels stressed and/or anxious at some point during exam time. To understand how stress affects the overall well-being of the students, and the various ways it can be managed easily before the UPSC prelims, we spoke to Dr. Shabiullah Syyed, Consultant Psychiatrist, At Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital. Here is what he has to say.
Stress levels can be higher than usual around exam time. A bit of stress can help you to stay motivated and focused. But too much can be unhelpful.
Exam stress can be overwhelming. It can confuse and exhaust you. Having to revise a lot of information in a short space of time can be stressful. Not understanding course material may also add to your stress. If it all seems to be getting on top of you, there are things you can do to keep calm.
What is important is learning how to control your emotions so that you can concentrate and be successful. As exam season quickly approaches, here are seven strategies that will help you cope with stress and anxiety:
Eat Properly. Your body needs the nutrients it gets from food in order to keep functioning properly. The food you eat affects how you feel both emotionally and physically. For example foods with lots of fats or sugars can make you feel heavy or sluggish. When our body has the fuel and nutrients it needs, it makes it a lot easier to manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
Limit Caffeine. Caffeine and energy drinks can give you a quick lift. But they're not good for you in the long term.
Too much caffeine can affect your concentration power. They can make you feel sick and can interfere with your sleep and your ability to concentrate.
Sleep Well. Wind down before bed. Your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. A good sleep helps you remember what you learned. Get enough sleep, especially on the days before your exams.
Exercise. Physical activity, like running and swimming, will leave you feeling calm, fresh, and energetic for hours. So build exercise into your timetable.
Distract Strategies. Use some distraction strategies that can help you manage your stressful or anxious feelings such as using a stress ball, chewing some gum, sipping on ice water, using fidget toys such as an elastic band on your wrist, or molding putties such as Play-Doh, etc.
Positive Thoughts or Cheerleading Statements. Combat worry thoughts or negative thoughts such as "I am going to fail" or "I can't do this" with positive thoughts or cheerleading statements such as "I got this" or "I am going to try my best, I know my stuff". Write these cheerleading or positive statements out and post them around your study area.
Relaxation Techniques. Reduce feelings of stress or anxiety when studying or writing exams by using breathing exercises. For example: take a minute to close your eyes, inhale for a count of three, then exhale for a count of five, and then repeat. It only takes a moment and helps your body and mind relax so you will be in a better frame of mind to concentrate.
Talk to someone. If you find that you are still feeling overly stressed, talk to someone you trust; whether it is a parent, teacher, counselor, friend, or doctor. Sometimes just talking about things can make you feel better and the person you talk to may help you put things into perspective.
Pressure from other people around exams can be huge. This can be hard to deal with, especially from family and teachers. You need to remember that it's your life and your exam, with you in control.
Tips To Help Manage Expectations
Stressful situations may cause you to worry too much and imagine the worst possible outcome. Base expectations on your past performance and do the best you can.
Put the exam in context. In the overall scheme of things, how important is it?
Tell people what you realistically expect from your exams. Talk to them and find out what they hope for you. Tell them what you are thinking and feeling.
Use the expectations of yourself and others to help you study.
Ask for and accept support from those around you, especially family members.
If exams do not go as well as you hoped, there are always alternatives. It does not mean you are a success or failure. Exams cannot measure these sorts of things. All they measure is how well you do on the day. Ultimately, don't lose sight that although things might seem intense right now, they won't last forever. Finding healthy and positive outlets and strategies to cope with feelings of exam stress and anxiety can help you feel more in control, leading to better and more satisfying results.