Young people experience considerable levels of stress due to their academic commitments. Many of them feel pressure to excel at school due to peer competition and expectations from family members and teachers. During the examination period, this can get much worse.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA), teenagers report experiencing as much stress as adults. Chronic stress can last for several years through high school and college, and lead to academic disengagement and more severe mental health problems.
Signs of developing stress and anxiety issues include excessive worry, headaches and stomachaches, poor sleep quality or insomnia, negativity and pessimism, reluctance to communicate, and a loss of interest in food or activities that you previously enjoyed.
If you are a student under the pressure of studying for examinations, it is time to give yourself a break. Here are some ways to help you cope with examination stress.
When you are busy studying, it can be tempting to reach for a chocolate bar or sugary energy drink to keep going. However, research shows that too much sugar can negatively impact your body’s natural stress management mechanisms. In addition, sugar crashes can make you feel tired and moody.
A balanced diet is crucial for your body and mind to function well during the taxing examination period. It is recommended that you eat a high-protein breakfast, five servings of fruits and vegetables to replenish your vitamin and minerals, and a good mixture of healthy fats and fiber each day.
If you are having trouble eating well, taking dietary supplements with advice from your doctor can help you to stay in top condition. Furthermore, quality treats such as CBD gummiescan be a better alternative to candy. They also come with the extra benefits of natural stress and anxiety relief.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep can seem like a waste of time when you are trying to study hard. However, studying for long stretches of time without rest can be counter-productive. A sleep-deprived state reduces your productivity, impedes your ability to learn, and can even harm your memory.
Furthermore, lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When your body is full of cortisol, you can find it more difficult to relax or fall asleep. If prolonged, this cycle can lead to chronic sleep disorders and stress-related mental health issues.
Therefore, you should lock sleep into your daily schedule. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep a night and try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day so your body can regulate its internal clock. When you feel tired during the day, take a power nap to recharge your body and mind.
Take Breaks and Breathe
When your body is tense and stressed, your mind will not perform at its full capacity. A good way to relieve tension and calm your mind is to take a break and practice a breathing exercise. It only takes a minute or two of conscious breathing to reduce anxiety and regain mental clarity.
Try this abdominal breathing technique: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, focusing on filling your abdomen with air. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until relaxed. You can place a hand on your stomach to feel it rise and fall as you breathe.
Being hunched over at your desk all day is bad for your body. Remind yourself to take a stretching break every hour. Stretching can reduce muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and increase your mental alertness. There are guided stretching videos available online for people of all health levels.
Physical activity can help to reduce stress levels and improve your mental concentration. When you exercise during the day, you also reap the benefits at night with better sleep quality. Try to do some moderate exercise such as jogging or yoga three to five times a week for 30 minutes each time.
If you do not want to ‘exercise’ per se, aim to at least take a walk outside for 15 minutes a day. Walking is a low-impact cardio exercise that will bring oxygen to your brain and keep your body healthy. It gives you time to clear your head so that you can return to your studies with a stronger focus.
Research has shown that spending time outdoors in green spaces can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and give your eyes time to rest. Exposure to sunlight will also allow your body to create important vitamin D and increase your serotonin levels to ward off depression.
The examination period is an exceptionally stressful time for students. The key to preparing well for your exams is to take good care of the study machine—you. By eating well, getting adequate sleep, taking breaks, and staying active, you can keep your body and mind in top condition and ace your examinations.