Since exam stress is unavoidable, you have to choose how you manage it: the right way of course.
Some students manage it wrongly, thinking it is a problem that must be avoided or destroyed if it rears its twisted head. Other students though, embrace it and use it as a motivator to study and pass their exams.
The difference between these two sets of students is in what they do when faced with the inevitable stress that accompanies exam period.
Below are some straight out wrongs ways to deal with exam stress. Unfortunately, a great many students follow this path thinking it is the right thing to do.
1. Behaving like it doesn’t exist
Some students choose to ignore exam stress and just carry on as if everything is just normal. Perhaps, in the past, they must have suffered the ill effects of being too stressed out at exams time so they think the best option now is to ignore the stress.
Ignoring the stress is reflected in how these students behave. They don’t bother to put in longer hours in revision or study. Burning the midnight oil or even spending more time in the library to study is out of the question for students with this attitude
This is their strategy to avoid stress during the exam and it is plain wrong. Since exams are inevitable, exams stress are also inevitable. The best bet of coming to terms with it is to embrace it and admit it is there.
Then do what you need to do to pass your exams. But never do any of them in excess. Because lack of moderation is what would lead to complications.
2. Pushing yourself too hard
Standing nervously at the other end of the divide are people who handle exam stress like it is a suicide mission.
Their motto is ‘Nothing is ever enough.’ They push themselves to extraordinary lengths to study or revise. You would meet many of such students in school.
When it is time for exams, their personality changes completely, as if a deranged version of them is always lurking just beneath the surface; a version that completely takes over during the exam period.
Their whole attitude is that of negativity. People like these are prime candidates for a mental and physical breakdown sooner rather than later.
3. Trying to move mountains
The previous point is directly linked to this. When you become too hyperactive because of the exams, one of the symptoms is trying to be a mental superman. You want to achieve the impossible in a limited time.
The main point of exam stress is the constant battle against time. There is never enough time to read as much as you would want to. So recognizing that, you would attempt to set unrealistic goals for such a limited time.
For instance, planning to revise 10 subjects in 24 hours is insane. That is clearly setting yourself up for failure.
In the first place, there is so much the brain can absorb without getting enough rest. The end result is mental fatigue and inability to recall what you read.
Secondly, your stress levels become elevated when you realize you can’t meet your goals. The increased stress is what would lead to unintended health problems.
The best way to avoid this is clear. Avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself. You can never move mountains!
4. Not taking breaks and cutting out relaxation
Another common but wrong way students react to exam stress is to cut out anything that smacks of a waste of time. This might seem like a good way to pass exams very well, but actually, it is bad when taken to the extreme.
Extreme in the ‘not-so-bad‘ cases means locking yourself for whole days in your room while you study and revise. But, this too can come back to bite you.
In the first place, going out and having a bit of fun is good for the body and the brain. It would help to relax the brain by giving it time to rest and reboot. The net effect is that you can be able to absorb and digest more information when you resume studying.
Secondly, relaxing rejuvenates your body’s energy levels. The fact is, so much brain work is energy-sapping. So you need your break to replenish the lost energy for the task ahead.
5. Drinking to stay awake is bad
It is very common at exam to see students taking up unhealthy eating habits. The popular excuse is the lack of time to eat proper healthy food.
In that respect, lots of students make it a habit of drinking coffee or caffeinated energy drinks to stay awake so that they can put in longer hours.
In the long run, it would be bad for the health. It is best to stick to your normal healthy diet, with enough water and a decent amount of sleep.
Saying there is no time to get balanced diet is a poor excuse. You can use the recommended breaks and relaxation time to get your food. This is called multitasking.