It’s fair to say that exam season is stressful for everyone, and we can often be so focused on impeding exams that we neglect look after our wellbeing. However, it’s so important that we do so. It’s something that I have struggled with in the past but have gotten better at doing through experience. Although I’m no expert on mental health, I hope these tips will be able to help you through exam season and to look after your wellbeing.
Find a study space that works for you
It’s important to create a study space that is comfortable and away from any distractions. As tempting as it is to study in bed, creating a separation between work and rest will allow you to focus better when you are working, and switch off quicker when you rest. This will help to decrease your stress levels. Whether it’s the library, your favourite cosy café, or the kitchen table, experiment with different spaces to find what works best for you.
Take frequent breaks
Recognising when to take a break is difficult, but something you will learn with time. We often become less productive when we don’t give ourselves time to rest. Whether it’s short, but frequent, study breaks or taking a day off. Dedicate blocks of time to rest from your studies. It’s okay to take a day off to look after your mental health, just as you would if you were feeling ill. Make time for things that you enjoy and allow you to relax.
Make time for social activities
We all tend to isolate ourselves from others for the sake of studying. However, this can often have adverse effects on how you look after your wellbeing. Dedicating time to meeting with friends not only allows you to take healthy breaks from work, but also gives you an opportunity to seek support in others.
Organise things to look forward to
Lack of motivation is usually a big problem for me, especially towards the end of exam season. Having something planned for the end of exams can give you something to look forward to and work towards. This could be a concert, going out for a meal, or getting together with friends.
Spend time outside
Studying all day can get you feeling pretty cooped up. I find that taking a simple walk outside (other methods of exercise are acceptable), not only keeps me active, but allows me to clear my head and separate myself from the stress of revision. Plus, being in nature is always an instant mood-booster.
Make sure you get enough sleep
Now this one is easier said than done. However, it’s not worth sacrificing sleep for studying, especially if you are already tired. I recommend finding a night routine that works for you, and leaving at least an hour to relax and switch-off from work before you go to bed.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s so easy to compare the amount of work we’ve done to our classmates. I’ve done it many times. But it’s important to remember that everyone works differently and at their own pace. Have confidence in your own abilities and don’t lose faith just because you think someone has done more than you.
Set realistic goals
Telling yourself that you will study for an unrealistic number of hours each day is setting yourself up to fail. It takes a bit of practice and experience, but you will get to know what kind of goals are realistic for you. Setting achievable goals for each day will give you a sense of achievement and help to relieve any stress.
Talk to someone if you are struggling
Asking for help is very daunting, and it’s not always easy to open-up about how we are doing. However, there are many ways to get support during stressful exam periods. Whether that be through friends or family, or the university’s mental health support systems, it’s important to know that you don’t have to go through the stress of exam season alone.
Remember that exam results aren’t everything
Exams might feel really big and important at the moment, but it will all seem small later down the line. Exam results do not define you as a person and there is much more to life than a grade on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, we are all human, and the only thing we can really do is our best.
I hope these tips can be of use to you. You might find that some things work for you, and some don’t, but it’s important to experiment and find the things that work best. With that, I will wish you all the best with any exams or coursework you have coming up!