BY: BEN HARTSHORN
Everyone knows the feeling you get before a big test. It’s natural to feel stressed and nervous while preparing for (and writing) a much-dreaded final. While a little bit of pressure is normal, too much stress can not only negatively affect your mental health, but your exam performance as well. When your mind is overcome by strong feelings of anxiety or tension, loss of concentration, memory, train of thought, and even motivation are common, and can distract you from the task at hand.
It is important to stay calm and keep a positive mental attitude when preparing for exams. Here are a few proven methods sure to keep the stress levels low and your performance at its best.
- Practicing Calmness!
There are countless ways to settle your nerves and keep calm while under pressure. Studies have shown that stretching is known to relax the body and mind, relieving feelings of stress and anxiety. Take some time to relax and breathe deeply when handling stressful nerves/feelings. Many simple activities can help calm you down, too, such as drinking tea, colouring, using aromatherapy and even taking a look outside.
- Eating Healthy!
While studying for and worrying over the upcoming test, it’s common for students to neglect their diet. Eating unhealthy, or not eating at all, can largely affect your ability to work through stressful situations and focus on work. While preparing for an exam, it’s important to keep a well-balanced diet and avoid caffeine. Drinking a lot of water is also essential to keeping your brain at its best.
Although the most obvious trick in the book, studying is actually one of the best ways to reduce stress in the phase of preparation. You can feel a lot less nervous if you take the time to read over notes and prepare yourself for what is to come. However, staying up all night trying to cram information into your brain can increase stress levels in your body and tire you out. It’s best to study for a smaller amount of time each day (in order to get some much-needed sleep), rather than leaving all of the studying until the last minute. While studying for an exam, procrastination is your worst enemy!
- Listening to/Playing Music!
It’s true—listening to calming music, as well as playing an instrument of your own, has been proven to calm emotions and remove tension from the mind and body. Listening to or playing music can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and soothe your emotions. Try it out for yourself!
- Getting Sleep!
You may think this is another obvious tip, however, you would be surprised at how often students neglect their sleep schedule in the weeks leading up to exams. As a high school student, it’s important to try for 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night in order to help your brain function properly the next day. Sleep is important to not just academic success but to overall health and well-being. A lack of sleep can cause depression, memory problems, diminished critical thinking skills, anxiety, nervousness and many other negative effects. In order to maintain a healthy mind and body, sleep is essential!
Studies have shown that exercising regularly holds a strong link to mental well-being and anxiety/stress reduction. Unlike other methods of de-stressing, trying out this trick takes time and effort. Participating in activities such as dancing, biking, walking, jogging and swimming can help boost confidence, encourage social interaction and focus the mind away from the upcoming test.
Mustangs, we wish you luck on your upcoming exams and a safe and happy summer!