Posted on: Wednesday, October 8, 2014

5 Ways to De-stress During Exam Weeks

I'm quite confident that all student readers can agree that exam weeks (midterms, finals, those random awful weeks when every professor decides to test you..) can wreak havoc on your system and cause loads of unnecessary stress. While school and your education are definitely extremely impotent, so is your health and well-being. Sometimes you can get all wrapped up in the stresses of schoolwork and forget to give yourself some leeway and grace -- after all, you are only human! I can speak for myself when I say that it's incredibly easy to be your hardest critic. As a total "Type-A" perfectionistic student, I speak from a place of experience when I say I know what it's like to get frustrated over an A- or upset when you get back an exam and scored a B+ (even if the class average was close to failing). 

It's times like these that it's important to remember to breathe and take a step back. Here are 5 things that I find helpful to do during exam-packed weeks to relieve some stress and keep myself (and those around me!) sane.  

1. Study Somewhere New
Studying in the same place can be mentally draining. While libraries are great places to knock out your work, they tend to not be the most aesthetically-pleasing environments. On days that I spend hours on end studying for a multitude of classes, I find it helpful to change up my environment fairly frequently. For me this means spending a few hours at the school library, then maybe going somewhere different or home for lunch. For my next chunk of studying perhaps I go to a local coffee shop or a different building on campus. Whatever areas work best for you and provide you with your optimal study environment, go there. Just make sure to take breaks and change things up if you feel yourself hitting a rut!
2. Get Movin'!
Exercise is so key for weeks when schoolwork is piling up. It's easy to put your fitness on the back burner -- it's often one of the first things people drop when they feel too busy! -- but it's so vital for your well-being. Not only is it good for your body, but it's great for your mind. As a Big Ten athlete I'm working out daily and often I take the correlation between that exercise and my academic performance for granted. According to my physiology professor, even just 20 minutes of exercise the day of an exam has been found to be beneficial for test-performance. It doesn't have to be an intense 7 mile run to help stimulate blood flow and brain action. If the best way for you to fit in exercise is to walk or bike to class instead of catching the bus, do that! It may seem like a small change but it can make a big impact on your mood. Not into cardio? I swear by yoga. It's exercise + meditation all in one.
3. Do One Thing A Day For Yourself
Taking time for yourself each day is such a mood booster. To feel the effects this doesn't have to be a huge time consuming thing. I find it can be as small as using a new shampoo in the shower or taking the time to light a candle and make a warm mug of tea to sip on while you review your notes. As I mentioned in the previous bullet point, meditation can have great benefits! Doing a quick stretching routine at home or carving out an hour or two to go to a yoga class can bring you clarity and make it so the time that you are studying is even more efficient. Taking the time to do something that makes you feel happy or pampered can make a huge difference in how your perceive your day. It's important to remember to take care of yourself, even when it feels like you have no time or energy.
4. Don't Neglect Your Loved Ones
This one is huge. I know when I get wrapped up in my studies it's so easy to put social events on the back burner. While yes, it's probably not the best idea to go out and party late or attend an all-day event the day before a big test, it's incredibly important to keep up with your social ties! Whether this means picking up your phone and calling a relative or spending a study-sesh with a friend or significant other, it's helpful to keep in contact with other people! Being able to take little breaks to think about and interact with all of the great people in your life can serve as a good reminder that there are people out there who love you unconditionally and not for your exam grades.
5. Remember: Perspective 
As I was getting to at the end of #4, perspective is everything. College is such an exciting time for your future and especially for pre-professional students, your academic performance is very important! At the same time, it's helpful to remember that your grades do not define you. Your GPA does not reflect how you make yourself and others around you feel. Your resume will not reflect the late nights that you spent awake to talk with a friend who was going through a rough patch. In 30 years, you (probably) won't remember if you got an 89% or a 92% on your psychology exam. Education is invaluable but there are other important things in life and it's important to remember that when school feels like your entire world. Life is a balancing act, and at the end of the day, if you do your best and work hard, chances are it will pay off and everything will fall into place.

Like this post? Have other suggestions for de-stressing? Please share! I'm always looking for new ways to manage the chronic stress of college and tips to try.


No comments:

Post a Comment