Managing Exam Anxiety
I think it’s very fitting how Mental Health Awareness week is the week before my examinations, so I am going to talk about managing exam anxiety.
I’m not going to lie to you, these past few weeks have been tough. The next thing you know, it’s a week before exams. I would like to dedicate this post to all of us who will be taking exams.
Exam season usually stresses me out a lot. I’ve been like this since primary school. Yes, I get stressed out easily. It also stresses me out even more knowing that I take a longer time to understand the content, and I’m no longer that person who can understand what I’m learning the first time round.
It’s also during this season that I would have occasional self-talk where I become really harsh on myself for not being able to understand things very well.
Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with exam anxiety and negative self-talk.
1. Talk to someone you trust about it
It’s really easier said than done. That being said, take your time. Maybe when you have panic attacks, you can take some time out, and probably cry it all out. Write about it. Then, you may want to try and call your friend or your parents to tell them about your feelings. I know how it felt like being shut down by people and them disregarding my feelings, so this tip may work when you can identify people who acknowledge your anxiety, someone who believes in you. If you tell your friends, you’ll realise that they know how you feel because both of you are having exams. Sometimes it’s better to face this together than alone.
2. Do something other than studying
This week has been so rough for me. I normally study 5 hours (with a lot of intervals) but with exam season I would amp it up to around 8, and sometimes 11 hours depending on the mental capacity that day. Sometimes I see other Studytubers online and how they’re able to study 14 hours a day and I was like, “man, I wish I can be as studious as them.” But I realised that, it’s not really healthy to stay in your study area for super long hours and not do anything else in between. I have tried using the Pomodoro technique and I find that quite effective, but because 25 minutes is too short of a study time for me. I tend to get anxious if I don’t finish studying what I’ve started. So if it’s a heavy content, I would give myself around 2 hours, then have a nice 30 minutes to 1 hour break. And after a long day of studying, I would just go back and do anything *but* studying. It’s good that it’s 18 hours of daylight now, so basically I can just start studying in the morning and by 6 pm, I pack my bags and have a rest. A few days ago, I was lazy to go to the gym so I decided to just jog around my house. I was surprised to know that there are some really nice woodlands around, there was so much nature and it was really therapeutic to jog around the area especially after your head starts to ache after studying for too long.
3. If you have other problems apart from revision stress, write them down
A week ago, I had a panic attack as there was something wrong with my computer. I also had accommodation and problems about my summer plans. These problems prevented me from studying due to my anxiety from them so I paused from studying to settle these problems. I listed down all my worries and categorised them to “things I can control”, and “things I cannot control”. Things I cannot control include, the duration it takes to repair my laptop etc. Things I can control include, “having a rough itinerary about my summer plan”.
Then at the “things I can control” section, I would just look at the issue one by one and see how I would go about to solving it. For instance, for my laptop problem, I can go to the library early in the morning to call dibs on the computer and study while waiting for my laptop to be repaired. I had a peace of mind and could continue studying after doing this.
4. Indulge yourself in some self-care routine and self-affirmation
After a panic or an anxiety attack, I know I would have to get a new start. It is okay to have these attacks because these are things you cannot control when it has happened. Apart from jogging, since it could take some time, you can indulge in shorter self-care routine like getting yourself a face mask, doing your nails, or really just go outside to take a breather. Go on Tumblr or Twitter to watch some memes (though be wary of the time, as social media can be distracting). I would occasionally go on Youtube to watch Avengers-meme related videos or something as random as “Vines that butter my croissant” in my break. After I feel a lot better about myself, I will go back to studying.
You can also wake up in the morning, and tell yourself that you got this. It’s really hard when you’ve been so harsh on yourself, but these little affirmations can actually help you to motivate yourself. Try it out for a week and see the difference!
5. Seek help if exam anxiety overwhelms you
The university has support for you if you feel stressed out. The workshops and drop-in sessions held by the Warwick Wellbeing Support really puts your feelings into perspective. They even have free Yoga sessions every week. I personally go for the ones on Monday mornings if I wake up on time. Doing yoga in the morning always makes my day! There’s also Nightline where you can call for support, if you feel more comfortable talking with other students. Here is the number should you need to talk about anything that worries you: 02476-522-199
That’s all from me. Happy Mental Health Awareness week, and I hope that you take good care of yourself this exam season!
You may also like to read: A difficult first exam by Olugbemi Moronfolu