Exam season can be a daunting and worrying time for many students and can lead to increased anxiety and stress, especially if you have never been through the experience of sitting formal exams before. Here at Anxiety UK, we would like to share our top tips for managing stress and anxiety to help you manage your worries and focus on getting the best results you can!
- Organise your revision
Try to take a little extra time to organise a revision schedule. This allows you to plan your time and make sure you can look at every subject comprehensively before your exams. If you stick to your plan as much as possible you can be confident you have spent enough time on all of your subjects and you are well prepared. Preparation is certainly key.
- Get a good night’s sleep
It may seem like a good idea to stay up late and cram in some extra revision the night before an exam but, getting a good night’s sleep is really important and will ensure that you are well rested and prepared to sit your exam the following day. Sleep is really important for our wellbeing and whilst being stressed can cause sleep problems, lack of sleep can also cause us to feel more stressed.
- Eat healthily and keep hydrated
Whilst snacking on treats whilst revising might be a temptation and gives you a big sugar rush, it’s important to make sure you are eating healthily to ensure you have plenty of sustained energy and to keep you alert. This can also help you to feel less sluggish and can reduce anxiety. Ensure that you keep yourself well hydrated (take a bottle of water with you to exams) and avoid the temptation to have drinks that are high in caffeine as these types of drink may result in you feeling more anxious and jittery – not what you need when sitting an exam.
- Make sure you give yourself plenty of time on the day of the exam
Allow yourself to get ready in plenty of time before your exam(s) and plan your journey in advance. Getting stuck in a traffic jam or missing the bus can cause you to feel stressed and anxious right before your exam and is an unnecessary source of stress to have to cope with. Getting to your exam in good time and ensuring that you have a moment to relax can make sure you feel prepared before going into the exam room. Practising mindfulness can really help you to still your mind before going into an exam – ensuring that you enter the exam room feeling calm and grounded.
Try this exercise to ground yourself:
- Find 5 things you can see
- Find 4 things you can hear
- Find 3 things you can smell
- Find 2 things you can touch
- Find 1 thing you can taste
Anxiety UK memberships offer access to the popular mindfulness app, Headspace. Find out more about Headspace and Anxiety UK’s membership here: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/membership/individual-membership/
- Take some time for yourself!
It can be easy to feel guilty when taking a break when in exam season and to feel that you should always be working. However, taking breaks and having ‘down time’ to do things you enjoy can help you to feel less stressed and overwhelmed by the exams. One way to make sure you feel relaxed is taking 10 minutes to meditate or do a mindfulness exercise. At Anxiety UK we have a partnership with Headspace as part of our membership. With Headspace you can complete 5, 10 or 20 minute mindfulness and meditation sessions that can help you to feel much more relaxed and calm.
Going for a walk and simply going outside can really help with managing stress as can exercising. You will often find that your revision is more productive when you intersperse it with short breaks.
If you are still feeling pressure from exam stress, workbooks can be a really useful tool to help manage anxiety as they provide techniques to help overcome the fears surrounding exams.
We recommend the following book in particular:
‘Starving the Exam Stress Gremlin’ by Katie Collins-Donnelly
This book is part of the award-winning ‘Starving the Gremlin’ series and is full of engaging activities. Rooted in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), it is packed with strategies to help the reader manage exam stress by changing how they think and act.
For more information please visit our website: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/products/children-and-anxiety/starving-the-exam-stress-gremlin/
If however you feel that your anxiety has become difficult to manage, Anxiety UK has lots of support available for you to access. Give our helpline a call and one of our friendly volunteers will be able to talk you through your options (03444 775 774). Alternatively, pop on our website (www.anxietyuk.org.uk) where you can access our live chat, email or text support services.
It’s important to remember that this is a time that will pass, along with the stress that you are experiencing and that you are not alone – help is available if you need it.
Good luck from the Anxiety UK team!