Most students notice some anxiety and tension at the thought of sitting exams. Feeling anxious about assessment is normal, and to be expected. A moderate amount of anxiety may not be a bad thing as it can sharpen concentration and performance, helping us to create extra energy and momentum needed to keep us studying (even though we might prefer to be doing something else!) Some students, however, will experience a degree of stress and anxiety that is quite defeating. Their fears can affect them physically, for example, difficulty sleeping, headaches, nausea; or mentally, for example, lack of concentration, irritability, feeling overwhelmed.
Some useful reminders:
1. Prepare a study plan and goals for each day/week. Make sure it's balanced with other important things in your life – that way it will be easier to stick to.
2. Create a study space that is comfortable, quiet, well lit, organised, and has no distractions nearby such as a TV, phone, people talking, etc.
3. Don't get hungry before or while studying. Grab nutritional snacks that keep you going, such as fruit/nuts/dairy, etc. Fill up on good food (like veggies, fruit, whole grains) and drink plenty of water to give your body and brain all the power it needs to function well.
4. Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is good for your brain and body, and helps you feel energised, stay focused and protects your mental health.
5. Every day, do at least one activity that you find relaxing – for example, watching funny YouTube clips, going for a walk, listening to music, reading for enjoyment, keeping a personal journal or diary or playing with your pets.
7. Work out which issues are causing you stress and try to address them. For example, if you are having problems with a particular subject, talk to your teacher or other students about it. If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed, contact one of our school counsellors to come in for a chat: email firstname.lastname@example.org or text (027) 3528 027. Parents and teachers might not seem like they understand everything you’re going through, but they totally know how it feels to be overloaded. Talk it through with someone who cares about you!
8. Keep up regular exercise such as walking, swimming, jogging or gym work – perhaps using it as a break from study. Benefits of regular exercise include improved energy and sleep, which are vital in helping to stay on top of stress.
9. Feeling connected to others is an essential part of being human. So spending time with your friends and family (including pets) in between study sessions can really strengthen your mental health and wellbeing.
Pop in to the Guidance Department for a free booklet on how to deal with Exam Anxiety!
The Lowdown.co.nz has some excellent resources on other ways to help you study, and keep yourself feeling positive: