Seeing as it was Mental Health Awareness week (from 13-19 May 2019), it ironically coincided with LSE Exam Season, I thought it would be useful to list out certain things that have worked for me and that you can try, to handle exam stress efficiently. Note: different people handle stress differently. I encourage you to use my post as a blueprint to develop a plan that will be appropriate for your circumstances.
‘Big Picture’ thinking
First and foremost, it is crucial to realise that these exams aren’t your ‘make-or-break’. In the zoomed-out view of your life, these exams are but a tiny speck. Therefore, I encourage you to look at your exams with that perspective. Having this attitude inadvertently helped in relieving me from some of that anxiety.
Both during and after exams, avoid comparing yourself with your classmates. This doesn’t just include comparing marks and scores but also the number of revision hours, or prep methods used, etc. What works for one person may not work for another and so even if your classmate mentions they’ve been revising 12 hours a day, there is no guarantee that it will work/not work for you. Stick to what works for you. Use inputs from others to make your prep method more efficient but don’t compare yourself and adopt someone else’s method as this may lead to more stress.
Just because it’s exam season, it doesn’t mean you should give up your hobbies and interests COMPLETELY. Maybe you can cut it down by a small percentage, but putting a full stop to all activities might increase your exam stress. Thus, it is good practice to take regular breaks and do things that you enjoy. Quite a lot of research has been done that proves taking breaks consistently is actually helpful. Unless you have been following a ‘no-breaks’ method all your life (in which case changing to a new method will add on the stress), I suggest including short breaks in your schedule.
A healthy lifestyle
During exams, make sure you eat well and exercise. If you’re not the kind of person who works out regularly, take walks. If you are looking for good suggestions, check out this link – it is a walking route that I curated especially for this purpose. You can use it as inspiration and tailor the route to your preference.
Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t box yourself in. Remember and understand that others are going through similar situations and that you’re not alone. If you feel that the stress is affecting your productivity and is too much to handle, reach out to friends and family who you know will have your best interests at heart and guide you accordingly. You can also reach out to the Student Wellbeing Service at LSE, or partake the LSESU’s Good Vibes Only Summer Activities Programme, which is arranged by the LSESU. There are a range of activities happening every day, from yoga, to workout classes, to cuddles with dogs!
At the end of the day, exams are just a phase in our lives. Eventually, we will pass through and make it to the other side and so, keeping in mind its ephemeral nature, let’s not get too affected by it and just give it our best shot.