Study related stress has got to be one of the most common problems amongst students, whether it’s something that affects you throughout the duration of your course or it shows up unexpectedly around exam periods, just to make the finals that little bit harder.
I’m quite lucky, as to only suffer with this problem for the few days before an exam, however I know many other people who struggle with stress all year round, even going as far as getting trapped in an endless cycle, where by the stress affects the quality of their study sessions, which only makes the anxiety even more crippling.
The good news is that there are a few things you can do to get it under control. I can’t promise that it will disappear completely if you take my advice, but it should make exam period at the very least bearable.
The first thing and most important is to be prepared. This sounds like an obvious tip, and yet still so many students leave studying until the last moment, which will only lead to stress. I have found that over-preparing for exams gives you confidence, relaxes you and generally helps make the information stick for longer (as opposed to forgetting everything you learnt the minute you walk out of the exam!). I never study the day of the exam, because I don’t need to. By this point I’ve already studied everything several times, which makes me certain that it will go my way. The morning of the test, I get up in my own time, I have a relaxing breakfast, I get myself ready and when it’s time to go, I take a slow stroll to the university. In comparison, when I finally reach the university, no doubt I’ll find a group of stressed out last-minute studiers, frantically trying to cram in information. Personally I prefer my way of doing things!
The next thing is to have some sort of distraction. Not something like television, or the Internet, which is just going to get you to veg out on the sofa, but something active and fun to give you a break from the books. I am a member of a university club, that meets up every Tuesday and Thursday, for an hour in the evening. It’s not long enough to take up precious study hours, but it is long enough to get me out of the house or library and doing something fun to take my mind off of the exams.
Another crucial tip is asking for help. Things can be made to seem a lot less intimidating when explained in simple terms by your professor or a friend. Not to mention that if you choose to study in a group or with a friend, you’re obligated to be reasonably social, which quite often prevents those stress related breakdowns.
Finally, it can be good to have something you can release that pent up frustration on. This could be as simple as a stress ball or pillow. If you have the space, maybe a punchbag. Taking your dog out for a game of catch also works; you just put all that anger into every throw until you tire yourself out.
The important thing to remember is to not let it overwhelm you. If you study enough, that hard work will always pay off.