Tackling stress of tests

Tackling stress of tests

Alvina Clara provides certain tips that can help students manage exam-stress tactically and come out in flying colours.

Each one of us has gone through the hectic period of examination either in school or at college level. For most of us, exams are the most pressurising times of our lives. There is a weary feeling of uneasiness, queasiness, agitation and over-burden at the time of exams.

Taking exams is bound to be taxing because of what's at stake. You may be feeling a heaviness of expectation from your family, teachers, and authorities at school, college or university to succeed. You may be terrified you're not good enough, or haven't worked rigid enough. So everyone has dreadful days prior to exams.

All of us have gone through these periods of exam anxiety which manifests in the form of unwarranted worry about upcoming exams, trepidation of being evaluated, and apprehension about the consequences

Exams and stress usually come hand in hand. A little bit of anxiety about performance is rather healthy, as it urges you to focus and cajoles you to perform well. Sometimes an overdose of stress can leave you feeling besieged and unable to cope. But there are many ways of managing stress.

Plan a stringent time table

First step towards handling exam-stress is a meticulous study plan. Plan your timetable in a pragmatic and flexible manner, and prepare for the subjects in the right sequence. In planning it, give yourself clear priorities and try to balance your other demands - meals, sleep, domestic chores or other commitments, including leisure and recreation. Identify your best time of a day for studying and strictly adhere to it daily. Also keep a stipulated place for study which is free from disturbances, helping you to concentrate. Keep the room neat, tidy, appropriately ventilated and illuminated.

Revise thoroughly

Feeling prepared and being in control is the best assurance you can give yourself as you get ready to write your finals. This can actually be attained through effectual time management. You must be a scrupulous planner with ample revisions lined up. Study well ahead of time and do not keep lessons pending at the last moment. The tension of completing the syllabus is one of the most noted factors that cause stress. It is only you, the student who can make certain that the syllabus is covered in time with enough revisions to amplify your confidence level. So make a vivid chart and follow it. This will build up the necessary reassurance and help you combat exam stress. As you feel more relaxed, you will discover that you are better able to review and revise.

Breaks of relaxation

Practice deep breathing, meditation and yoga as forms of relaxation. They help your body relax and reduce stress. Alternately, take a brisk walk in fresh air after your day's revision is over.

For every hour or so that you work, take a 10 or 15 minutes break in between. Just do whatever you want (listen to soft music, sip some juice, green tea, stare at soothing scenes of green nature, call a friend, wash your face etc.) for those 10-15 minutes, then  get back to study again. This gives your brain a little rest and will aid to be focused and vigilant when you are actually studying.

Including rest in the regime

Deficit sleep results in poor coping strategies for managing stress and disrupts your thinking and recall ability. Most people need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you are staying up late or pulling an all-nighter to cram for an exam, you will likely not achieve your desired result. Your preeminent bet is to study often and in advance so that you can get sufficient rest before the big day.

Worry, fear, anxiety and restlessness often augment when you’re despairingly insomniac. If you feel any of these, be sure to get a good night’s sleep or a nap between long study periods. Try to unwind before sleep by cutting down on stimulants, like caffeine, or meditate before sleeping to relax and alleviate any anxiety that will foil you from soporific sleep.

Eat nutritious food

While many students famously indulge in junk food during finals, it’s more important to pay close attention to your nutrition at this time than at any other. Food is fuel for your mind as well as body and if your food isn’t loaded with nutrients, you can be left feeling exhausted, grouchy, hungry and less energized.

To avoid this, eat a healthy breakfast and chomp some snacks after 2-3 hours, preferable spoonful of nuts, fresh fruits and salads, throughout the day during finals. Have your meals on the set time. Eat and drink healthily – watch your sugar and caffeine intake as too much may have some of the same effects as being anxious. Drink plenty of fluids, especially plain water to keep yourself properly hydrated and cool.

Physical activity and exercise

Regular exercise is an excellent way of coping with stress. Twenty minutes a day spent walking, jogging, playing a sport, cycling, or at the gym can make a  difference. It could also be dancing to your choice of music, walking the dog or going for your training session, just something you enjoy and that is time away from studying.

Stop exam 'post-mortem’

Don’t compare and contrast your answers after the exam. It is plainly futile and creates redundant turmoil in your mind. It's too late to go back and modify your answers that it will agonize you even more. Do your best and leave the rest.

Keep calm, don’t panic

The pressure of exams can make you unnerved and agitated. Anxiety can sometimes make you feel worn-out, distressed, apprehensive, shaky, frustrated or even insane. It’s obvious; exams bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others. Remind yourself that you can only do your best. Keep your cool, breathe easy and maintain your serenity.

Speak out clearly

Don't keep your apprehensions bottled up within. Sit down after dinner with Mom or Dad for an informal chat. Tell them about your groundwork and schedule for the exam, inform them what's stressing you out, what are your doubts and ask for any candid advice they might have to encourage you. It reduces the burden once you discuss your fears with someone you trust.

Envisage it all going precise

This is actually the preeminent tip of all, even though it sounds meager. Imagine yourself taking the exam and feel convinced that you know all that you need to know. Picturise getting all the answers right, and envisage how comfortableyou feel. Say, yes I have done it. Then picturise ‘A’ grade on your test paper.

Remember, there’s always a light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Exams have a tough beginning but happy ending, and the stress that goes in handling the pressure, ends with the exam.  Lastly, on the day of the exam, feel immensely confident! Think positive and keep cool! Good Luck!

(The writer is an Assistant Professor in a business school at Belgaum.)

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