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7 Strategies to Cope with Exam Stress and Anxiety

by Jeanette Said

Do you have exams coming up? It is easier to be successful when you feel good, less anxious and less stressed. Whether they admit it or not, everyone feels stressed and/or anxious at some point during exam time.

What is important is learning how to control your emotions so that you can concentrate and be successful. As exam season quickly approaches, here are seven strategies that will help you cope with stress and anxiety:
  1. Eat Properly. Your body needs the nutrients it gets from food in order to keep functioning properly. The food you eat affects how you feel both emotionally and physically. For example foods with lots of fats or sugars can make you feel heavy or sluggish. When our body has the fuel and nutrients it needs, it makes it a lot easier to manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
  2. Sleep Well. Wind down before bed. Your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. A good sleep helps you remember what you learned. Get enough sleep, especially in the days before your exams.
  3. Exercise. Physical activity, like running and swimming will leave you feeling calm, fresh and energetic for hours. So build exercise into your timetable.
  4. Distract Strategies. Use some distract strategies that can help you manage your stressful or anxious feelings such as using a stress ball, chewing some gum, sipping on ice water, using fidget toys such as an elastic band on your wrist or molding putties such as Play-Doh® or Silly Putty®.
  5. Positive Thoughts or Cheerleading Statements. Combat worry thoughts or negative thoughts such as “I am going to fail” or “I can’t do this” with positive thoughts or cheerleading statements such as “I got this” or “I am going to try my best, I know my stuff”. Write these cheerleading or positive statements out and post them around your study area.
  6. Relaxation Techniques. Reduce feelings of stress or anxiety when studying or writing exams by using breathing exercises. For example: take a minute to close your eyes, inhale for a count of three, then exhale for a count of five and then repeat. It only takes a moment and helps your body and mind relax so you will be in a better frame of mind to concentrate.
  7. Talk to someone. If you find that you are still feeling overly stressed, talk to someone you trust; whether it is a parent, teacher, counsellor or friend. Sometimes just talking about things can make you feel better and the person you talk to may help you put things into perspective.
Ultimately, don't lose sight that although things might seem intense right now, it won't last forever. Finding healthy and positive outlets and strategies to cope with feelings of exam stress and anxiety can help you feel more in control.