How-To Deal: Exam Stress
It's almost time... not to remind you of the terrible awful moments you will inevitably live in the next few weeks. I remember exams like it was a few months ago. I have done a lot of exams and I have lived through many exam seasons. Truth be told, I used to cry in first year during my exams. Eventually, I just cried in my car afterward. Exams are a lot of fun! Now, I probably didn't handle my stress as well as I could and my two cooping methods were crying and eating. I'll take this moment now to thank anyone who walked me through exams and watched me eat my weight in snacks.
Here's what I did learn though: when you don't take care of yourself, your entire body goes out of whack. My cooping methods were eating and crying because I wasn't taking care of myself. You have a threshold for stress, some manage it really well, and others, not so much. My threshold before a test is very small, but for a chaotic day its very large. It's once you hit that threshold that your body stops functioning properly. I will always be stressed before an exam, I will always be panicky and that's okay; I just need to work with my body to help it, instead of working agains't it. So how do you deal with stress properly to avoid a complete emotional breakdown? I've gathered my top five tricks that have helped me a lot. I hope they can guide you in times of trouble during exam season.
1) Eat all the vegetables you can and drink water
Snacking on chips and popcorn was my go-to, but it was only a temporary fix. My nervous system was still so agitated. I know snacking on foods shouldn't be an emotional response, but if you need to snack on something, may as well make it good for you. Bring some hummus and dip the veggies in it. At UNBF at the HIL, it can be very easy to find peanut butter and veggies in a plastic container it's about $3.50, totally worth it though because you won't get that energy crash chips give you. Also, the pita bread slices in the plastic containers come with hummus, so if you want a snack that's a little more filling, you can get both and use the hummus with the veggies and pita with the peanut butter. Also the campus store at the entrance of the SUB sells veggies with ranch dip, I don't love ranch as a dip anymore, but it's so much better than the bag of chocolate you might be leaning towards. You can also get these great cracker/hummus combos and they offer more sustenance when snacking. You could also pack a bunch of snacks. I know there isn't much time to prepare food when you're studying, but trust me, your body and bowel movements will thank you.
2) Move around
Will you look stupid if you are moving your body around the SUB or library? Yes you will. Will you body be able to break down some of that nervous energy? Yes it will. Once, I had three papers to finish/write in like a week, so I was sitting a lot. Know what I did? I did the 2 minute and thirty second warm up that they do at the beginning of the 21 Day Fix videos. I got my body moving and I was able to finish my papers without causing long-term damage to my body form sitting. I know there's a lot of excuses going on in your head as to why you can't go to the gym or do a workout video, but those excuses will kill your heart. You need to move, you need to not ignore that your body naturally likes to stretch and get exercise.
3) Step away 30 minutes before the exam
You know that kid who is freaking out before the exam and reviewing everything over and over again? I was never that kid, that kid killed my confidence before an exam. That kid made me more anxious. I make it a point to stop at least forty-five minutes before an exam to mentally calm down. If you don't know it, you don't know it. I watch Youtube videos, I fix my hair, I put on some lipsticks, I listen to Beyonce, I get out of my own head. At this point my mean girl is just going full blast, so I try and not listen to her. It's a moment to just sit and relax before the exam. If you can't be around people before an exam, get there right as it starts, just walk in when the doors open. If you need to be there early, get there at least 15-minutes before so you can calm down.
Be this baby when you sleep. Calm your mind, read a really boring book, but just get a good night of sleep. I know it may be hard, but plan your day around eight hours of sleep. I don't care when you sleep, I don't care if you study in the middle of the night, but you need sleep.
5) Caffeinating your energy doesn't work
I tried doing this. It didn't work. I just had to use the bathroom a lot. It's okay to have a cup of coffee, but coffee is very dangerous on your system if you have too much, it also agitates the nervousness. You most likely also won't get a healthy snack with it, I always chose something sweet and the crash I would get was insane. It's also spending money on something that isn't doing your body any good. So avoid more than one cup of coffee. If you're super tired, take a nap. If you're lucky, you're university will have nap pods. If you're not, never fear, sneak back home for a nap, or fall asleep on your bench at the library.
Those are all my little tips/pieces of advice! I hope your exam season goes well. I hope you have amazing confidence and remember to calm the heck down before writing. Also, start studying early and make a rough schedule of when you will study.
Thanks for reading,