Under Pressure – Dealing with Exam Stress


Nicola Manuel: Illustration

The January exams are upon us; revision is at an all-time high, deadlines are closing in and tension is rising. Keeping calm throughout the coming weeks becomes an art form. Though it seems the stress is never ending, it doesn’t take much to ease the pressure for a little while and offer some relief.

There are the obvious answers of course. Get enough sleep, eat well, maintain hydration and so forth. Keeping healthy throughout a stressful time leaves you one less thing to worry about, and feeling guilty after missing two weeks of circuits or eating a whole pack of Jaffa Cakes is not the way to a calm outlook. And not to mention ‘super foods’ which can boost concentration, brain power and alertness.

Exercise is not just to keep the weight down though. We’ve all heard of endorphins, released during physical activities; a game of football, half an hour’s run or a quick swim will not only make you feel physically better, but will relax you, taking your mind off your worries for a little while and relaxing your brain. It could also help you think more clearly; If you’re someone who finds it harder to switch off than most, taking part in exercise could give you time to mull complicated ideas over, or come up with your own, possibly unleashing your creative side.

Give yourself time off. Not just for exercise, but for anything you want. This time should be allocated though; don’t watch your favourite film yet feel guilty for not studying. Accept that you won’t be doing any, and just enjoy some time doing what you like, even if what you like is a night at Jesters (just don’t overdo it and write off the next day!)

Plan ahead. This may be the time of year to make lists and timetables your best friend. Working under pressure can really help, so having to do things by a certain time could really help if you’re feeling un-motivated. Lists and a well organised revision file will clear your head and outline what need to be done, so there’ll be no last minute hunting for content halfway through a revision session.

Give yourself a treat to aim for, and it’ll motivate you even more

However, sometimes all you need is a ‘carrot’. No, this isn’t another healthy eating suggestion, but a figure of speech. Give yourself a treat to aim for, and it’ll motivate you even more. Whether it’s the shirt you’ve been eyeing up for weeks, or a big night out, or even a trip home, the more you get done the closer you are to what you want.

There’s no need to delete Facebook, Twitter or Google+ over the exam period. If procrastination is a problem, allow yourself time to just waste time online every so often throughout the day. Get all your ‘checking’ done in the morning and you’ll be less inclined to do it halfway through a revision session. Denying yourself Facebook can make things even harder to resist, just like denying yourself chocolate on a diet.

If you’re really struggling under the pressure, there are always solutions available from the university itself. Exam stress workshops are being offered on the 11th January and in May for those struggling or in need of help. Click HERE for more information. If you can’t make it, talk to your housemates, close course friends or even a close family member. Maybe all you need is a little reassurance.


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