When the exams line up, and deadlines start heavily knocking on your door, that’s when the stress level skyrockets. Should you give in to the stress that tags along with exams? Of course not!
Stress can harm both your physical and mental health. It can lead to headaches, insomnia, low energy levels, anxiety, and depression. Adding all that to your already hectic schedule isn’t what you want, is it?
There may not be a solution that can completely block out stress from your life before the exams, but there are things you can do to overcome it.
Combating Deadline Stress
1. Aim for Realistic Optimism
Overestimating yourself or putting too much burden on your back can break you down. Rather than trying to impress others or yourself, be realistic about what you can accomplish in this exam period.
“In some circumstances, change cannot be achieved, and it is acceptance, not optimism or wishful thinking, that will prevent depression or endless frustration,” writes Clifford N. Lazarus Ph.D. for Psychology Today.
While you should hope for the best and set yourself certain goals, don’t pressure yourself to the point where skipping a single study session will make you feel like you’ve failed.
2. Make Time for Exercise
Get your body moving and sweat out the stress. Exercising will boost your endorphins and make you feel more calm and happy. Besides, it will exhaust you and chase away insomnia.
Aside from the biological benefits, exercising will help you take your mind off exams. Choose an activity that you enjoy, whether that’s jogging, swimming, dancing, or taking a walk. Just make sure that you get your heart pumping.
Keep in mind that a “one-time-thing” type of exercise won’t help. You need to introduce physical activity to your daily schedule and practice it at least 3 to 4 times a week.
3. Eat Healthy Food
According to a study from the University of Otago in New Zealand, college students tended to feel happier, calmer, and more energetic on days when they ate more fruits and vegetables.
Junk food and food filled with processed sugar can only increase the side effects of stress. Too much sugar in your body will make you more anxious, while junk food can make you feel sleepy and decrease your focus. If you can’t focus or don’t have enough energy to study, you’ll only stress more.
Whenever you feel like reaching for a sugary drink or greasy hamburger, consider how it will make you feel. Instead of those “stress-assistant” food, opt for beneficiary foods like:
- Turkey breast
- Dark chocolate
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
- Nuts (cashews, walnuts, etc.)
4. Be Organized
Even if you aren’t the most organized person, getting on good terms with your organizational skills can be extremely helpful.
Creating a study schedule and pre-planning your activities will help you keep the focus on your obligations. When you know that you have enough time to conquer every assignment, you won’t have to stress whether you’ll make it or not.
“When you create a timeline or work plan for your projects and assignments, your work becomes a pleasant stroll, instead of a mad dash to the finish line. You minimize, if not completely eliminate, the need for all-nighter or otherwise harried work,” says Rashelle Isip, a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant.
If you know that learning for a certain exam will be a struggle, create a study group, or find a tutor in advance. Do all the necessary preparations that can help you out from researching the top essay topics 2020 to asking your friends for notes on any lessons you’ve missed.
5. Daily Dedicate Time to Doing What You Like
As much as you feel like you need to spend every waking minute studying, your brain can’t handle that. If you are consistently stuck behind your desk, you’ll only waste time staring blankly at the papers now and then.
That’s why you need to take breaks. Moreover, you need to take relaxing, fun, and enjoyable breaks.
Whenever you take time off from studying, do something you truly love. Paint, listen to music, go to a part, or do whatever will take your mind from exams.
If you don’t make time for pleasure and you just obsess about exams, you’ll exhaust yourself entirely. Allowing yourself to be happy a few hours a day will give you that shot of positive energy that you need to carry on.
6. Find Support in People that Love You
Sometimes the best way to chase away bad thoughts is to talk it out. A “friends and family” therapy can be just what you need.
Find time to gather with your friends or talk with your family. Having a few laughs and opening your heart up will help you deal with your troubles. Hearing “you’ll do great,” or “I believe in you,” can give you the confidence you’ve been losing.
However, this isn’t the time for low-quality friendships. Only people who honestly care for you and who make you feel good should be welcomed in your army of supporters against deadline stress.
Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach specializing in stress management and quality of life, as well as the author of “8 Keys to Stress Management,” advises, “Pay attention to how your friends make you feel, and if they’re less than supportive, start putting your energy and time toward people who are better suited to be your friend.”
7. Find Your Learning Style
Trying to find the recipe for success by copying someone’s learning method will usually end up in frustration. It is essential that you find a learning style that suits you personally.
Who cares that your friend who studies at 5 a.m. aces her exams if you exceed them when you learn in the afternoons. Even though many students spend hours quietly studying in the library, your focus can be at the highest level when the TV is on.
“No learning style is either better or worse than another. In fact, each learning style has its own strengths and limitations. But if you know your limitations, you can extend your abilities and reach your highest potential,” shares Dr. Michael W. Kirst.
Identify whether you memorize best when information is visually presented, when you listen to lessons, when you read, or when you discuss study material with others. Once you figure that out, navigate your learning in that direction.
Finding a learning style and environment that maximizes your learning potential will make you more productive. Consequently, you’ll eliminate the stress coming from failed study attempts.
Put these tips in motion and observe how your body creates a shield from deadline stress. Managing stress before exams will both help you reach academic success and, more importantly, keep your body and mind healthy. So, without further ado, let the battle with deadline stress begin!