Let’s start with the good news - experiencing some amount of stress or anxiety is an indication that you’re human. It’s how your body reacts to the demands and challenges it faces. It is natural to feel anxious prior to an exam or stressed while juggling assignment prep.
While stress and anxiety can sometimes be overwhelming, they can also be an energising and healthy pressure that encourages you to grow your capabilities and take control of your situation.
So how can you strike a balance between too little an too much stress? This blog will cover some techniques you can utilise to help reduce and manage your stress and anxiety levels during assignment periods and leading up to your exams.
Slow Down to Speed Up
When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that working harder and longer is the only solution. However, this can actually lead to burnout and a decline in your performance. By taking the time to slow down and prioritize your health, you can recharge your batteries and approach your work with renewed focus and energy.
There are many ways to slow down and take care of yourself, such as practising mindfulness, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet. These activities may seem like luxuries when you're under the pressure of exams and assignments, but they are essential for maintaining your mental and physical health.
Remember that your grades or your academic achievements do not define you. Taking care of yourself is a crucial part of your journey as a student, and it will ultimately help you achieve your goals in a more sustainable and fulfilling way. So, take a deep breath, slow down, and prioritize your health and well-being - it's the best investment you can make in your academic and personal success.
Early Bird or Night Owl?
Not everyone is the same, and no one size fits all when it comes to the best time of day for productivity. And it’s unproductive to try and force yourself to study when your focus and productivity levels are low. You are better off trying to try and use those times as your downtime to relax, catch up with friends, exercise, or do something you enjoy, and then make use of the times that work best for you.
Ask yourself these two questions:
- When during the day do I have the greatest amount of energy and concentration?
- When do I have the fewest interruptions and distractions?
For some, that might be first thing in the morning. For others, they might find the mornings challenging and have a habit of procrastinating until midday anyway. So rather than making yourself feel guilty for procrastinating, schedule in that time as downtime and kick off your studying session at midday.
Messy Workspace, Messy Headspace
The physical environment of your workplace has a significant effect on the way that you work. Cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep.
A Good Routine
Hopefully, you already have a good routine in place, but if not, there has never been a better time to start. Self-care doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take up heaps of time. Start with the basics, making sure you get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat regular meals and snacks, and get in some movement or time outdoors. Then look to build on this through self-care that helps you to relax. Remember - relaxing is not one activity. It’s the outcome of that activity and how it makes you feel. And what works for your friends may not work for you. Experiment and see what works best for you! From journaling, reading, different types of exercise, stretching, and meditating, the options are endless. Pay attention to how you feel after each activity. Ask yourself, does this make me feel grounded and at ease? If so, schedule some time each day to help you shake off the tension of studying or to unwind after an exam.
Not only can sleep deprivation worsens anxiety, but getting enough sleep is vital to feeling and performing your best, which is particularly important around exam time. Don’t stay up late the night before or get up too early on the morning of. A good night’s sleep is more valuable than a few hours of revision.
Write Down Worries
It’s been proven that if you take a few moments to write about your fears just before you take an exam, it will help to reduce your anxiety and improve your performance. Write down what you are stressed about, why you are stressed, and what the outcome would be if those worries were realised. By writing down your worries, it can help you to put everything into perspective and help you to feel lighter and less tense by emptying your worries from your mind and onto the paper.
Move your Body
You don’t need to run a marathon every day, but the movement is just as key to a healthy mind as it is to a healthy body. Exercise is considered healthy stress on the body, which can actually help your body fight off the effects of stress. Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.
Reach Out for Support
Having people to lean on is great for your mental health. Make sure you let those close to you know if you are feeling overwhelmed or preparing for an upcoming exam. Not only can they help to support you emotionally, but they can also be on hand to help you in other ways (healthy study snacks, anyone!). If you don’t feel as though you have people in your life that understand your stress and anxiety, that’s what TalkCampus is for! Jump onto their global community and chat with other students that get it.
Want to learn more about the services available to students? Check out the resources available below.
TalkCampus | Peer-based mental health support app
Have you downloaded the TalkCampus app yet? It's a free mental health support service available to all UNSW students.