Stress Relief Activities for adults during Exams


Exam stress. All of us feel a certain amount of stress when it comes to performance. Exams are the most important aspect of a student’s grades. They determine whether or not you are going to achieve the required grades, scholarships and in some cases career opportunities. If exams stress you out below is a simple structured guide on how to beat the exam stress. 

Stay active and improve your physical health to relieve stress before a test

Physical activity is one of the best, scientifically proven methods to combat stress. The activities can range from short walks to stretching. The key here is to build a routine which during your exam week help you mitigate a lot of the problems related to exam stress. Exercise directly reduces stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Here are some suggestions:

Do some form of exercise (jogging, biking, walking, callisthenics) 3 to 5 times a week for 30 minutes each time.

Set small – even tiny – daily goals and focus on consistency. Scientific research indicates that frequency is more important than intensity when it comes to forming new habits like exercise.

Do exercise that’s enjoyable for you.

If you simply don’t find any form of exercise enjoyable, distract yourself with music, audiobooks or podcasts while you’re exercising.

Find an “exercise buddy”. It’s easier to stick to a routine when you have an exercise buddy.

Get enough sleep

Hitting the books for long hours at a go is tiring, and it’s not a good study habit. When it cuts into your usual hours of sleep, research shows us that stress levels will increase.[Practise these tips to get a good night’s rest every night:

Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps to set your body’s internal clock and optimises the quality of your sleep.

Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends. Aim to keep your sleep schedule as regular as possible. If you have a late night, try taking a short nap the following day, rather than sleeping in.

Keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom. The blue light emitted by your electronic devices (e.g. phone, tablet, computer, TV) is especially disruptive to sleep.

Wind down before you go to bed. Turn off all your devices an hour before it’s time to sleep. Read a book, listen to some calming music, or think of a happy memory.

Do deep breathing exercises

There are many deep breathing exercises you could try, but here are a couple of them to get you started:

Belly breathing: Sit or lie in a comfortable position and place one hand on your belly. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and feel your hand being pushed outwards as the air fills your lungs. Now exhale through your mouth, and feel your hand moving inwards. Repeat 5 to 6 times.

Morning breathing: When you get out of bed, stand up straight, bend your knees slightly, and bend forward from the waist. Let your arms hang limply towards the floor. Breathe in slowly, returning to your original standing position as you do. Your head should be the last part of your body to straighten. Exhale slowly, returning to the bent position by the end of your breath. Repeat 5 to 6 times.

Organisational tips to prevent stress before a test

Strong organisational skills and focus will help you schedule time to study for an exam well in advance.

Clear your room and your desk

Have you heard the saying “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind”?

The more clutter you have around your workspace, the less you’re able to concentrate on preparing for the exam. This is because your brain is being bombarded by so many distractions.

Reduce as much clutter as you can around your workspace. Get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be there, e.g. photos, snacks, staplers. Move them out of sight, or out of your room completely.

Use drawers. Store things away in your drawers or wardrobe. The only things you should have on your desk are the tools and books you need to complete your current assignment.

Clean your space. Now that you’ve cleared your space, give your desk and room a good clean.

Straighten up before you go. Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to clear everything away, so you can start again tomorrow with an uncluttered desk and an uncluttered mind.

Learn and apply time management techniques

A study involving students revealed that those who had been taught time management techniques showed lower levels of exam-related anxiety than those who had not.

Effective time management includes getting enough rest and a good night’s sleep, which leaves you feeling more energised so that you’re able to focus when studying.

Here are just a few of the many time management techniques I used to become a straight-A student, while still getting 8 hours of sleep a night:

Take a break after studying for 40 to 50 minutes. For most students, working in blocks of 40 to 50 minutes helps them to be as productive as possible.

Complete assignments at least one to two days before they’re due. By doing this, you’ll have time to check through your work thoroughly.

Block out time for studying. Put it in your calendar and treat it as if it’s a fixed appointment.

Reduce your phone usage

Who would have thought your mobile phone could cause stress?

So it’s time to get smart about your smartphone.

Here are a few things you could try:

Check your social media feeds just once or twice a day.

Turn off all notifications.

Put your phone on aeroplane mode, or better still, switch it off after 9pm.

If you’re still struggling, there are fun apps designed to help you ignore your mobile phone and focus on studying for your exams, such as Forest.

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