How to reduce exam stress and anxiety

You’ve been studying all month but still feel unprepared for the exam that’s coming up. How do you deal with such an intense anxiety? Regardless of how inadequate you feel, there are an assortment of strategies you can employ to get rid of exam stress and anxiety.

What causes exam anxiety?

Normally, students feel overwhelmed to succeed in exams. Apart from the personal expectations that most students set for themselves, there’s also immense pressure imposed by parents and loved ones. Anxiety springs up when students start worrying about how the exam will turn out and what grade they’ll get.

This prompts the brain to produce cortisol (a terrible stress hormone) in large quantities. Apart from affecting you psychologically, cortisol leads to weight gain and triggers a variety of ailments.

Ways of dealing with exam stress and anxiety

  1. Get outside

Most students remain cooked up in their rooms during the exam period, perusing their notebooks in a last-minute attempt to cover fresh ground. However, staying indoors only intensifies your anxiety, making you feel sick and uneasy.

Try getting outside for a change. Hit the gym. Attend a spinning class. Do any outdoor workout that will get your heart pumping and your mind refreshed. Any time you exercise, the brain releases endorphins (feel good hormones) that combat the negative stress hormones produced when you’re stressed out. This reduces exam anxiety significantly.

  1. Try daily meditation

The art of meditation has been around for decades. It’s a relaxing technique that helps to calm the mind and bring self-awareness. Gladly, students can incorporate daily guided meditation into their schedules – this can effectively combat the stress and anxiety that shows up right before starting an exam.

There’s a reason why Buddhist monks hold month-long meditation retreats regularly: it’s a powerful art that trains the mind to be still. It’s appalling how the brain suddenly starts receiving a trail of negative thoughts when we’re anxious.

These thoughts can be quite dangerous if left to dominate our minds. Meditation helps individuals to filter out negative thoughts, accept the current state of things and dwell in the here and now.

  1. Talk to someone

It’s often said that a problem shared is halfway solved. Talking to your friend or partner normally has a therapeutic effect and can help reduce stress and other deep-seated issues. Bottling up stress doesn’t help. If exams anxiety starts creeping in, confide in a friend or utilize the helpful campus counsellors.

In addition, it’s important to believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t worry too much about stuff that you can’t change.

Be content that you studied sufficiently and focus on those areas that you’re already good at. After all, we can’t be perfect every single time. Trying to be perfect only triggers more exam stress, so it’s much better to avoid searching for perfection.

  1. Eat healthy and get ample sleep

Avoid eating junk when revising for exams. Eating unhealthy meals could induce negative feelings and increase your anxiety even further. If you desire to reduce exam stress and feel a little bit better, eat a healthy balanced diet that incorporates fruits, veggies, nuts and some lean meat.

You should strictly avoid processed foods and sugary meals during this period. Such diets are so unhealthy that they interfere with the body’s natural hormone regulation capability, leading to an overproduction of cortisol.

Apart from eating right, you should also get adequate rest at night. It’s only during deep sleep that our bodies get rejuvenated and our brains flush out harmful toxins (such as beta-amyloid) that are responsible for dementia and other mental illnesses.

Sleep is so important that doctors recommend a minimum of 7 hours sleep for optimal functioning of the body. Don’t torture your body – take frequent rest breaks and get enough sleep at night.

Exam preparation should commence immediately the semester kicks off, not in the last quarter. To avoid stress later, ensure you study early enough and use all the resources availed to you. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.

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