So, it’s that time again. The most dreaded time for every student – exams. Oh, I can still feel the chilling anxiety that comes with the realization that exams are approaching. Even though I can’t take that feeling away (sorry!) and no one and nothing can, there is a chance to minimize its effects and stay calm and productive until it’s all over and life is beautiful again.
Here are a few things you can do:
1. Plan your studying in advance and stick to the plan – no matter what. Preparing a final exam is overwhelming – there is just too much to remember! So, break it all up in small parts over a longer period. Plan how much you want to go over each day and stick to it no matter what. You will have any and every reason to procrastinate and convince yourself that being a little behind schedule is no big deal – just a little extra work tomorrow. No! Do not fall into this trap. Tomorrow will only be harder. Sit down and do all your work – now!
2. Leave extra time because you suck at time management. You think you need 5 hours to finish today’s study goals? You’re probably wrong, so leave 7. We are terrible at estimating how much time we need to accomplish something. Our brains constantly overestimate our abilities and number of distractions that we might face. So, leave more time that you think you will need. If it turns out you finish early – great, more time to relax and do something fun.
3. Take time to not think about studying at all. When exams are coming, the pressure is growing, it feels like there is nothing else you can think about. The exam results are crucial and life-defining. You want the truth? They are not. A year or two after graduation you will not even remember how you did on that extremely important final that was supposed to end your life if done poorly. That is not to say you shouldn’t try hard. You should do your best always but just keep in mind that life is so much more than exam results. So, after a long day of studying go watch your favorite show or hang out with friends with no talk of exams.
4. Don’t forget about your health. Yes, yes, eating healthy, sleeping enough, exercising…the same old cliché. I did not always follow this and nor will you, or any student. It is normal to want to sacrifice our health a little when we are going through exams. Just don’t overdo it! You might not get 8 hours of sleep every night but get 6; get enough so that your mind is clear. When we are exhausted from lack of sleep it just makes the anxiety stronger. Our critical thinking ability is impaired which makes everything seem like a bigger deal than it really is.
5. Reach out to fellow sufferers. All your classmates are tired, miserable, and worried and you might not want to bother them by freaking out about your own struggles. But misery loves company – you sure have heard that one before. It will make them, and you feel saner to know you are not alone in your trouble with anxiety. You can take turns expressing your worries and encouraging each other. I had a worry buddy and we were there for each other every exam period. It really does help.
6. Hug a dog. Or a cat. Or a rabbit. Animals are great at relieving anxiety. They are soft, and warm, and calm and make you feel like things are going to be okay. Give them some love and attention and forget about your worries for a momen.
7. Remind yourself that you are going to be okay. You are so much bigger that this, your life is bigger than this. Whatever happens you are going to be okay. You will figure it out and in time it will all seem so insignificant. Just work hard and stay healthy.
Exam period will never get easier. And years after you’re done with school, the thought of it will still cause a horrible feeling in your stomach. But you can’t let it leave you with permanent damage. Don’t take it too seriously. Work hard, do your best, and follow these tips to have a much more bearable experience.