Exams are here!
With only a few weeks left until exams begin, it is only natural to feel stress and anxiety creeping in. There’s a lot of external pressure to succeed which becomes internalised, unnecessarily ramping up adrenaline during day-to-day activities. These are very complex but normal emotions to have, which everyone has experienced in one way or another. So, here are some techniques I have found useful to boost your mental health during the exam period.
I am not a licensed medical practitioner or therapist, which should be prioritised if you are really struggling. I am sharing methods that have helped me during the many tests I’ve done and continue to do. There is no guarantee these will work for you straight away or at all, and that is OK. Managing your unique mental health situation cannot be limited to one article, hence why individual assessments are required. Find what works for you, stick with that, then add or subtract as you wish.
The most common piece of advice is taking a deep breath in, because it’s the easiest to implement that works. Ideally, you inhale for four seconds, hold for four, and then release for four – repeating as necessary. If that is too long, reduce to a comfortable time interval. When nerves start to kick in, your body enters flight or fight mode which causes a shortness of breath. Therefore, taking multiple deep breaths counterbalances these effects, returning the body to an equilibrium.
Clenching your fists
This may appear or feel strange initially, but before too long it became commonplace for me. When a lot of intense nervousness builds up in your body, clenching your fists creates two focus points. The excess internal energy is then diverted to your hands, which you can then release all together. Simultaneously, squeezing hands has been shown to improve memory by holding and alternating between right and left for 90 seconds. In conclusion, a clenched fist could be the perfect one-two punch needed during revision.
Another way to get rid of built-up nervous energy is getting outside and exercising. Whether a short walk around the block or a quick workout, being active helps to keep your mental health in check. Exercising releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling internally, and can also help manage the rhythm of your breathing. Plus, any valid excuse to take a screen break between revision blocks will help to prevent burnout. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Despite how important everything I’ve posted so far is, the one I’ve needed to focus on most is positive self-talk. Telling yourself that you can do it is so significant in maintaining momentum against intrusive doubts. Relieve some pressure by reassuring yourself it’s not the end of the world after a particularly difficult exam. Then, leave any lingering emotions and move onto the next test with the right mindset. Find a mantra, an important saying for you, and repeat it until you believe in yourself!
If you feel like you may need some support, don’t hesitate to talk to someone! We also have fantastic mentors here at Greenhouse Learning who can help you navigate the ways of life, so please contact us here!