6 Ways to Make Exam Stress Work for You
It’s the exam period once again, and thousands of students will hit the books, aiming to do well for their various subjects.
All through the study process and all the way up till they get their results, students will do their best to manage their stress. Some will feel slight nervousness and will be edgy for a couple of days. Others will be overtaken by their fear of failure, thus increasing their panic.
Whatever the scenario, stress can lead some people to lose sleep, over-/under-eat and neglect exercise, a combination of factors that can increase the risk of being a nervous wreck!
In some extreme cases, stress can be linked to more dangerous side-effects such as mental illnesses, high blood pressure, or substance abuse.
Fortunately, the energy and the adrenaline rush brought on by stress can be controlled and even used to your advantage!
Here are six ways to do it:
1. Use the adrenaline rush to help your performance
When faced with a stressful situation, the brain releases certain chemicals that prepare the body for the age-old “fight or flight” response. Our ancient ancestors used these reactions to help them successfully flee from or fight off predators.
Of course nowadays predators aren’t as much of a problem, so the fight or flight responses can be used to learn new things, face challenges, make decisions, or get ahead in everyday life.
Acknowledge the physical responses you feel under challenging circumstances! Tell yourself that it’s normal, and you’ll be fine.
You can then use the adrenaline rush to help you perform better, with more energy and emotional vitality!
2. Don’t be afraid of fear. Tame it!
Fear is a natural reaction to the unknown! Whether it’s a phobia, an awkward situation, or an unpredictable event, fear comes about when we start thinking too much about what could happen.
But fear is just that: thoughts that get out of hand! Once you think about why you’re feeling anxious, you can pinpoint the source of your fear, and realise that it may be unfounded.
Thinking positively really goes a long way, and it’ll help if you tell yourself that everything will turn out fine or even better than expected!
3. Redefine “failure” and “success”
Panicking over the possible outcome of a situation can transform a slight anguish into a full-blown panic attack! Being afraid of disappointing yourself or others translates into a fear of failing or succeeding, which in turn makes it seem like it’s very hard to control your fear of failure!
Try to maintain a positive outlook by picturing yourself doing a great job, by imagining how proud you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Setting positive goals helps you feel confident and energised!
Another confidence booster is to practise by yourself or in front of people you trust, to make sure you are prepared. Remember, doing well does not require perfection, and a less-than-perfect performance is not failure.
4. Turn your worries into problem-solving skills
You could be worrying about something because you’re not sure how to solve a specific problem! In fact, sometimes the solution to a problem can seem so unreachable that you feel overwhelmed and start to panic.
Remember that solutions can sometimes come from the most unexpected places! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, or extra information. Asking for help is not a sign of failure.
Knowing who to go to for help or support is considered a great advantage for problem-solving skills!
If you’re on your own, just follow these simple steps to solve a problem:
- Clearly define the problem (“I have way too much homework this week!”)
- Brainstorm to find possible solutions (“organise my tasks”, “work with friends”)
- Evaluate each idea, putting an X next to those that aren’t possible, a question mark next to the ones that are difficult to do, and a Y next to the steps you could take right now.
- Set specific dates by which you’ll complete your Y ideas.
- Revisit your question marks once you’ve completed the Ys. Are some of the question marks now possible?
- Finally, go back to the Xs – are they really impossible?
5. Use stress to learn and grow
Sometimes stress is very difficult to control or rationalise, and you’ll feel like there’s nothing you can do about it!
That’s OK, everyone deals with such emotions, even adults! Even people who seem to have everything under control in their life are stressed about something or other.
The difference is that they use this stress to find out more about themselves and they then use these lessons to grow their confidence.
Once you know which situations or events make you worry and which ones are not that much of a challenge for you, you’ll be able to apply your skills to almost any scenario.
Also, remember that failing at something from time to time is not a disaster and it does not make you a bad person! Learning from mistakes is what we call “experience”, and everyone you know has gone through it!
6. Be inspired!
Life without challenges and without mysteries would be quite boring wouldn’t it? What fun would it be to already know everything in advance?
Don’t be afraid of the unexpected! Embrace the fact that everything in life is possible and that it’s up to you to get the most out of it.
Of course that doesn’t mean you should be disorganised and just let things happen to you! It just means that if you’re prepared and positive, it’s more likely that nothing or nobody can get you down!
Remember to cultivate and share your sense of humour. Laughing at stress can relieve you and make you feel better any place, any moment.
Stress is a part of life; just like doubt and uncertainty go hand in hand with trying new and challenging things. Try as we might, stress is something that cannot be avoided.
But the way we react to stressful situations CAN and SHOULD be tamed!
Why not share this article with a friend of yours who may be feeling overwhelmed?