It is midnight; you’ve consumed so much caffeine that you now have the shakes; you’ve got an exam in nine hours. It can only mean one thing – it’s that time of year again, the dreaded period of exams and assignment deadlines, sleepless nights and exhaustible days. So it is inevitable that you are beginning to feel the pressure and the stress that is looming over you like the pile of assignments that are waiting to be finished, but it is important that you do not become victim to these ambushes:
1. Don’t Ignore it
Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. If your response to exam stress is carrying on (la-di-daaa) as if nothing is happening – no revision, no time spent in the library – it may be great in the short term, but remember you don’t have the ability to time travel and put yourself three weeks behind where you are now, the time when you should have began revising, which will present itself as the only downside as exam days rolls up and you are as unprepared and ill-equipped as a farmer to conquer and quell a zombie invasion.
2. Don’t overdose on caffeine
Many people instinctively reach for the coffee, cola or energy drink to get them going and give them a head start with a caffeine fix, and trick their body into thinking that it isn’t tired. It may help you stay awake for an extra hour or so, but it won’t do your looming exam date any good when you are slumped in a chair asleep after the effects of the caffeine wear off and you remember how tired you actually are.
3. Don’t attempt to develop superhuman powers
You may have seen Batman, or have idolised Ironman – born a normal Joe, without superpowers, but patented the ability to save the world from evil – and thought you are capable of the same, but remember they are just movies and you are not superhuman! Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting goals that you – Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark – would not be able to meet without wanting to tear your hair out by the end of it. Covering ten revision topics in one day is never going to be achievable – by anyone – so be realistic.
4. Don’t beat yourself up
“I’m not doing enough”, “I haven’t stuck to my schedule”, “I’m not going to do well”; these are probably phrases that you have thrown at yourself during the heights of yours stresses and strains and your rants and raves. But what really are you going to achieve by them? They may give you the kick in the right direction, a gentle nudge to get you going, but too much negativity is likely to make all your motivation go kaput, drain your energy levels and put you in a foul mood for the rest of the day; producing the urge to listen to Adele on repeat while whimpering into your half empty tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
5. Don’t stop doing things you like
If your response to revision stress is complete, 100% lock down focusing all your time and energy into the impending exam or deadline, as if you have been placed in a maximum security prison. It may seem like a reasonable response, to make sure you give it your all, but the examiner doesn’t want blood, sweat and tears dissolved into the pores of the paper. It is important to take time out to do the things that you enjoy, as it gives your brain the necessary time to rest and digest the information you have been feeding it all day.