With the arrival of spring and anticipation of summer, the warmer weather and more sunshine mean only one thing for college and university students: finals. As the semester comes to an end, a persistent weight of stress hangs over so many students taking on assignments, presentations, and of course final exams.
As the pre-exam anxiety sets in, making effective use of time and practicing self-care techniques are absolutely vital. Your health is always more important than a final grade.
“Making effective use of time and practicing self-care techniques are absolutely vital.”
Follow these tips to make it through this stressful time of year while keeping yourself healthy and alert.
- Avoid the all-nighters. Making drastic changes to your sleeping patterns makes it harder for you to retain information and can increase your levels of anxiety. Focus on working hard during the day, then taking the nighttime to relax and recharge your body.
- Keep your body healthy. During exam season, you may find yourself caving to junk food cravings or even completely missing meals. If you want to be productive and allow your brain to keep working hard, eating healthily and staying hydrated are the keys to survival. These basic self-care practices will help you focus better and stave off fatigue.
- Move around and reward yourself. When sitting in the same spot hunched over studying for hours on end, you tend to lose sight of how tense your muscles become. As important as it is to be productive while studying, it is equally as important to take short breaks. Keep your body moving during the day and reward yourself at the end of a productive day with innocuous little wind-down pleasures such as watching an episode of your favourite TV show.
- Work smart. If you know you’re running out of time before your exam, break up what you need to study into chunks. Spending 20-30 minutes reviewing topics, several times throughout the day will help you commit them to memory. Focus more time on newer concepts or those that you find to be more difficult.
- Visualize success. In stressful times, self-criticism and self-doubt may creep in and crowd out the positive, productive thoughts that lead to success. Such negative self-talk only heightens anxiety and makes it harder for you to study. When this unwelcome guest holds you back, spending a few minutes with your eyes closed, taking deep breaths, and visualizing success can really positively impact your achievement.
- Make a plan. Many find it useful to physically write down all they want to accomplish before the exam. Breaking down a big task into smaller chunks makes any seemingly insurmountable problem more manageable. Sketch out a schedule for how you will get these things done and you may find the studying much less overwhelming.
- Know yourself. Finally, even with all the hard work and commitment you put in, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your mental health and self-care are always more important than a final grade. Take time off when necessary and be sure to recognize when you are wearing yourself out. If you don’t feel that you can handle everything by yourself, reach out and ask for help if need be.
Without a doubt, this is a busy time of year, but putting these self-care tips into practice can help to make it through to the end of the semester relatively unscathed. Remember that you are more than capable and that if you put your own wellbeing first, success is more likely to follow.
The information included in this blogpost has been adapted from the following sources: