Why Do You Experience Exam Stress? How To Beat It?

Board Exams are here and so is the examination stress. The unforgiving competitive race to succeed and societal expectations from a student to be an all-around topper perpetuates this stress which in extreme cases can lead to mental breakdown. Dr. Ekta Soni, Chief Clinical Psychologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, shares tips on How to do away with the examination stress.

Why do you Experience Exam Stress?

Exam stress is normal and very common. You might experience it because:

  • You often need to learn and recall a large amount of syllabus.
  • Exams always have an element of uncertainty about them.
  • There is a certain kind of expectations from the students by family and friends.
  • You may need a particular exam result to gain entry into another course or for a successful career path.
What are the symptoms when you are Stressed?

You might experience the following symptoms when you are stressed:

  • Physical Signs: Increased heart rate, shallow breathing, muscle tension, excess perspiration, heart palpitations, stomach churning, headaches, dry mouth.
  • Behavioural Signs: Procrastination, restlessness, wanting to get away, avoiding others, impatience with others (‘short fuse’), lack of self-care, substance abuse, high-risk and self-destructive behaviours.
  • Emotional Signs: Wanting to cry/laugh, anger, helplessness, fear, disappointment, depression, irritability, frustration.
  • Cognitive Signs: Negative/self-critical thinking, confusion, poor concentration and memory, racing thoughts, going blank, difficulties with problem-solving.
How to Beat Exam Stress?
  • Begin studying NOW – Procrastinating and just thinking about it won’t help you. It won’t get any easier. Just thinking about it will make you more stressed and will yield less result.
  • Clarify areas you need to study – Be strategic. Ask what areas you should focus on. Give more attention to those areas you are weak in.
  • Organise a time plan – Start when you said you’d start, stop when you said you’d stop. Follow your schedule. Take ten minutes break from studies after every hour or so.
  • Organise a study group – Make it social and productive. If you have any questions or concerns, discuss it among yourselves. Focus on your trouble spots and share notes on that, and once you’re ready to start studying, make a schedule that takes into account the different demands of each subject.
  • Take a break – You may feel like you need to study for as many hours as humanly possible, but at a certain point this all-in approach becomes counterproductive. Schedule in short breaks: chat with friends, grab a coffee or go up and down a flight of stairs.
  • Get moving – Increasing activity level is something you can do to help relieve the stress and to feel better. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).
  • Eat a healthy diet – Healthy diet can help you to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress while eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.
  • Get your rest – Students often tend to study overnight. This provides them with less sleep which can accelerate stress. It’s extremely important to sleep for 6-8 hours during exam to give rest to your brain.
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