To understand how exam stress works, we should first better understand what the word stress means. Stress isn’t a feeling or something abstract. It is defined by the hundreds of reactions, signals and pathways that take place in our body that make us feel uneasy, restless, anxious, agitated. These all translate to stress. We all know about the central nervous system. It contains the spinal cord and the brain. When we are stressed, our brain sends signals to our whole body to show us signs of stress. These signs and symptoms could be anything like headache, nausea, irritability, difficulty in breathing, stomach aches, so on and so forth. So this tells us that as with every other thing that happens in our body, stress too is controlled by the brain. Exam stress is the feeling of anxiety and maybe even panic that sets in around the time of our examination. It has many external and internal factors.
Peer pressure, Parental pressure, The study load, Illness, Insufficient study time, Other less ideal environmental factors, etc.
Fear of failure, Fear of not being the best, Personal goals, Self-criticism, Under-confidence, etc.
Now that we know the factors, we would like to know how to better handle it. As I mentioned before, the plan is to trick the brain into a sense of security so that the signals of stress are not sent to the other parts of the body. This would help you tackle the problem in the initial stages.
The first thing we need to do is manage the external issues. Let me tell you a few things that would help soothe your stress.
Listening to music, 10 minute dance breaks, 15 minute TV break (Only comedy shows or cartoons), cold water compress on the nape of your neck, 8 hours of sleep, a walk in the park. These are a few ways to handle stress by actively being involved in something.
We also need to plan our study time well. If we study for 3-4 hours continuously, we will be less productive. Instead, take a break every 90 minutes. But make sure to stick to the break timings. We often get carried away while taking a break!
The other thing we can do is to train our brain. This can be achieved by various mental exercises like breathing, relaxation techniques, guided stress relief. There are many videos that can be found online for them. More organization while studying helps ease stress as we are in control of the situation then. Make timetables of the study schedules but don’t make it overwhelming as that would make us go off schedule very easily. We should also learn to appreciate ourselves for achieving the smaller goals. Instead of being angry with ourselves for the smaller mistakes we make, let’s appreciate ourselves for everything we achieve. Appreciation goes a long way and helps us always stay motivated.
We should always remember that we study for knowledge but not for marks alone and till we are learning and understanding things, we can never truly fail. 🙂