By now you have gone through enough iterations of the same exam that you might have some of the nerves under control but its magnitude can still be challenging.
Manage your pressure or stress triggers
By understanding what triggers you to feel stressed you can begin to identify unconscious perceptions that you hold and identify some super coping strategies to help you deal with these safely and quickly. By taking control you will feel empowered to manage the situation and this will improve your well-being and resilience.
• Note down the last time you felt really under pressure or overwhelmed
• Note down what you were doing and where you were
• Note down whether you were with someone
• Note down how you felt emotionally at that time
• Note down how you felt physically i.e heart started to race, tummy felt
• What happened next i.e. what was the result, what did you do and how did you feel for the rest of the day
• What made you feel better.
How to spot if you're stressed
You could be showing signs of stress if you're:
• Feeling more tired than usual
• Struggling to focus and feeling overwhelmed
• Feeling anxious and feeling as though your self-esteem is crumbling
• Feeling teary and more emotional than usual
• Struggling to sleep or stay asleep throughout the night
• Waking up from sleep and feeling exhausted
• Suffering from regular stomach upsets
• Losing appetite
• Feeling run down
• Beginning to experience panic attacks
Experiencing one or more of these things doesn't necessarily mean you're "stressed"; we all have very different levels of tolerance to exam situations. Have a think about how your body and mind feels day to day and if you start to notice that you are developing these kinds of signs here are some positive actions you can take to keep yourself well.
The three vital things your body needs to keep well is food, water and sleep.
The NHS states that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That's about eight glasses of 200ml each for a woman, and 10 glasses of 200ml each for a man. Keeping hydrated is important for brain function, distributing nutrients around our body and removing what we no longer need.
Nourish your body with lots of healthy grub. Fuel your body and mind with lots of greens, fruit, nuts and seeds for healthy energy boosting snacks and make sure you have a balanced diet of three meals a day. If you don't feel fulfilled your regular tummy rumbles will make it incredibly hard for you to concentrate. Try and eat as naturally as possible and stay away from refined sugars found in sweets, fizzy drinks and chocolate. Yes they'll give you a boost initially but very quickly you'll notice a slump, leaving you feeling sleepy.
Sleep is so important, it's your body's healing time, when the cells repair and your brain archives and detoxes the millions of thoughts that have raced through your mind during the day.
If you find that you have started dreaming a lot, it's because there has been a lot playing on your mind during the day. If you can identify what these things are, write them down before bed. By acknowledging what they are you should sleep soundly. Try to keep to the same sleep pattern that you maintained prior to exams.
To help you get into that sleepy zone, give yourself 30 minutes to wind down, that means no TV and no smart phone. Pick up a story book and switch the light off as soon as those eyelids start to droop.
Keeping yourself focused
When you wake each morning don't rush to the nearest set of notes or textbook. Sit quietly in bed or look out of the window, place your hand on your heart and begin to breathe deeply. Once you have found a rhythm that works for you say one thing you are grateful for and set an intention for your day.
Focusing on your breath and heart is a powerful tool, doing this regularly will help you begin your day with energy, mental clarity and balanced emotions.
Stick to what makes you happy
A routine is so important, if you're a gym bunny, love to run regularly, or like to have a kick around at the park keep it up. It releases happy hormones and keeps you feeling grounded. Exercise itself won't make you completely stress-free but getting sweaty does help you to detox the emotional intensity that you have been feeling, giving your brain a re-boot and improving mental clarity.
If you are a creative sort and enjoy painting, sewing, drawing keep going. These kinds of activities will help you to zone out, giving the body and mind a much needed rest.
Let it go!
Accept the things that you can't change. Your exams are coming, they will happen and then they will be over. Instead of leaking energy on worrying about them create solutions and focus on what you can control:
• Working through your revision plan and achieving your study goals
• Working through past papers
• Give it your best shot on your day.