Personal Perspective: How I have been Coping with the Stress of Exam Month
Having not sat through exams since IB, which took place exactly a year ago, the process of rigorous revision seems almost like a foreign concept to me, I must admit I feel a bit like a newborn learning how to walk for the first time again. Bad analogy aside, the realisation of how much material and slides upon slides of lecture information I will need to revise over the approaching weeks, is extremely daunting and I can feel the effects of stress setting in. I have never been able to deal with stress particularly well, from stress eating binges, unhealthy sleeping patterns, over consumption of caffeine, skipping crucial meals, and even physical manifestations of stress in which I was diagnosed once with having Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) by an orthopediatrician, which is the locking and popping of the jaw caused by excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching which can be attributed to stress. To counter this, I was prescribed muscle relaxants as well as a nighttime retainer. These are just a few examples to give you an idea of how badly I cope with stress.
The stress of this month also has been particularly amplified with the fact that on top of revision, having to think about cooking and doing laundry; basically things I never had to worry about (thanks mum) back home, are additional things that have been loading up my to do list and I am sure it is also another stressor affecting others as well. In order to stay more organised and manage my time more efficiently, one of the biggest things that I have found for me this term in terms of efficiency, includes pre-cooking the upcoming weeks meals in bulk so that during the day all I need to do is grab one of the tupperwares from the fridge, heat it up and i’m all set. This also ensures I am actually eating a well balanced meal and not just skipping meals because I am too busy then stress binge eating on crisps and other unhealthy but easy meals.
I find group revision quite effective for me in terms of decreasing my stress as well because after I have gone over the course material individually I realise there are still a number of concepts I do not get and when I start panicking about not understanding something, it just increases my stress even more. This is something I have learned to counter by revising with friends and course mates, as we are able to discuss amongst one another and clear up any of the concepts we don’t understand. This is also effective when going over modules that are technical concept heavy, so in my case, linguistics and doing some of the exercises and practice questions together is something I found to be also very helpful.Making a revision schedule is another thing that helps me arrange my day to day activities accordingly, as I know which topics I need to focus on throughout the week and so I am able to equally revise all the modules rather than hammering away at one module’s content and neglecting the others, which I have tended to do in the past.
While having to adapt and get used to this lifestyle change and increased responsibilities and tasks, I do feel that this experience, once exams are over and the initial stress has settled will be a learning and self growth experience. Out of all of this, one thing I have also come to realise is that worrying and thinking about how stressed you are, does nothing but aggrivate the stress you are already feeling, as you cannot do anything about the dawning fear of exams, but actually keep focused and prepare well.