8 ways to beat exam stress

8 ways to beat exam stress

Beat Stress illustrationStress in small doses can be a good thing as it pushes us to get to work and focus on what needs to be done. The stress response can be triggered by physical or emotional pressures or by anything perceived as a threat or challenge.

If you are experiencing stress, your body will be stuck in a constantly heightened state. You will feel tense, anxious and irritable most of the time. You may suffer from headaches, panic attacks, stomach complaints and insomnia.

Exams are a common source of stress for many students and can prevent you from performing at your best so it’s important to be aware of how to tackle it head on.



1.     Eat Right. Treat your body like a temple and fuel that brain. It’s mostly true that you are what you eat. Have plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables on a daily basis and make sure you have a good breakfast every day. No one can think properly if they’re running off sweets and coffee.

2.     Exercise. Exercise is a great way to relieve tension as it releases endorphins, which are 'feel-good' neurotransmitters that are released in the brain. Try exercising a couple of times a week to help you unwind. At the end of a hard day it is more tempting to collapse in front of the TV with a tub of ice-cream, but if you incorporate some gentle exercise into your week you will really notice the difference to your stress levels!

3.     Join a yoga class. Or try Qigong or Tai Chi, which are two types of martial arts that can improve relaxation skills. Qigong (pronounced "chee gung") is an ancient Chinese discipline that uses breathing, meditation, visualisation, and repetitive physical exercises to cleanse and strengthen the body. Tai Chi aims to harmonise the body, mind and . It uses flowing movements and does not rely on speed, strength or force.

4.     Get enough Sleep. This is often easier said than done. Lack of sleep can lead to a ' vicious cycle' of daytime behaviours which make the situation worse; if you are tired you may try to your lack of energy and concentration by excessive caffeine intake, you may be too tired to exercise and you might nap during the day which will reduce your ability to sleep at night.

5.     Bridging objects. Some people find it helps to wear or carry something that has positive associations with another place or person. Touching this bridging object can be comforting in its own right, then allow yourself a few minutes to think about the person or situation which makes you feel good. This can have a calming effect.

6.     Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulating substance which has a number of physiological effects on the body, including a slight increase in blood pressure and pulse. It has been proven to worsen symptoms of panic and anxiety, and it can interfere with sleep which in turn will make you more irritable and unfocused. No caffeine after 4 or 5pm is a good rule to follow. Remember that chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine.

7.     Green Therapy. Nature is soothing for anyone suffering from stress. Natural settings will clear your mind and encourage you to relax. Allow time in your daily routine to enjoy and appreciate nature, even if only for a five-minute walk around your local park. Numerous health organisations and independent academic bodies have shown that “Ecotherapy” is effective in improving mental wellbeing.

8.     Hug a Pug. Yep that’s right.

Glasgow University recently introduced a hug a pug day to help students reduce exam stress. Read more here…

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