As the exam period approaches, the workload and stress can quickly become overwhelming for even the most prepared of students. Whether you are sitting your first university exams as a first year student or preparing for the last hurdle in your final year, the desire to do well can lead to an unbalanced approach to revision and exam practice. While you are of course at university to achieve highly in your exams, placing undue emphasis on work in the run up to exams at the expense of looking after your wellbeing will likely only lead to severe burnout, which will be counterproductive to your goals by undermining your ability to perform at your best when the assessment period arrives. As a result, it is extremely important to take some time out to take care of your mental wellbeing as the pressures only continue to mount in the lead up to exams.
Here are a few ways—completely away from revision!—that you can manage your stress and recharge during the exam period:
Keeping connected with people
When the time comes to begin your intense revision regimen, it is all too tempting to plan to spend countless days and nights poring over readings in the library or to lock yourself away for hours on end in your room to go through your notes over and over again. As a result, it can become easy to lose sight of your relationships — it might be weeks before you realise that you haven’t seen or spoken to your friends or family in a while. Making even a little time for these relationships on a regular basis is important for boosting your mental wellbeing during a time of high pressure. Staying connected with the people closest to you can provide you with an outlet to relieve your stress and anxieties and also serve as a wellspring of positivity and emotional support. To make sure you are making time for friends and family, organise regular phone or video calls to keep in touch and even better (if possible!) arrange to meet up for a drink or meal. Your closest relationships are important in themselves away from your academic life and it is important to not allow exams to come in the way of them.
Getting yourself outside
Serious studying can sometimes mean that you end up spending all day and every day inside for maybe weeks at a time. Especially at a time when one can get anything and everything delivered right to their doorstep, you might not have any reasons that force you to actually leave the house. Whilst this might appear to give you precious time to further your revision, spending long periods of time in one place can be counterproductive to your studying. Even with regular breaks from studying, continuing to stay within the same four walls can prevent you from allowing yourself to take a proper mental break away from thinking about revision. Taking the time to regularly go outside will allow you to truly disconnect, enabling you to destress after each burst of revision and concentrate better when you return your focus to studying. In addition to boosting your productivity in this way, going outside contributes to a general healthy lifestyle which is beneficial in periods of high stress when it is easy to neglect your mental and physical health. As the weather gets warmer, consider taking your revision outside and commit to taking short, local walks in nature to recharge between study sessions.
Holding onto your hobbies
In the face of the immense workload—from catching up on old work to going over notes to doing practice exam questions—exam season can easily become a time of abandoning hobbies. However, although grades are of course a priority during the assessment period, it is crucial not to allow exams to entirely overshadow other activities in your life. Whilst time spent on hobbies will naturally be reduced to make more time for revision, you should never cut them out completely in favour of filling your time exclusively with academia. It is important to continue to do activities that bring you enjoyment and relaxation, such as reading, doing sports, or cooking. Not only do these serve as breaks in between revision, they also help you to maintain a sense of routine and normality amidst the stress of exam season. Furthermore, it is also important to continue with activities which are more goal-oriented, for example learning a new language or writing a book. Making time for these hobbies even during the revision period will ensure you continue to make progress, boosting your confidence and sense of accomplishment in the run-up to exams. Schedule hobbies into your timetable in between study sessions to help you ensure that you make at least some time for them.