The exam season is over our heads, the country has recently started counting initial cases of the new omicron virus, and it seems a little hotchpotch. We have been through two pandemic waves, multiple complete and partial lockdowns and what not. We might not be feeling completely up for new challenges, like these approaching exams. You might also be questioning if it’s only me or is it normal to feel stressed out or panic in this situation. Yes, it’s okay, and it’s completely understandable that you feel a little out of place.
So we’re gonna have a look at how can we effectively deal with exam stress and anxiety.
How to reduce stress at home
Since we are talking about exam stress, we’ve got to understand how to manage stress and from the comfort of your home.
Stimulation of the Vagus nerve
Whenever we are stressed, or panicking, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, to counter that arousal and to calm the body down, parasympathetic nervous system plays a role. An important part of our parasympathetic nervous system is the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve stimulation involves massage (behind the ears, the sides of your neck), cold exposure (ice cubes, pat on wrist, cold shower) and stimulating your vocal cords (singing, humming etc. ).
Meditation is found to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress and increase one’s ability to focus. There are specifically designed apps for guided meditation techniques, which can be beneficial when starting out. Take help of those in your initial journey.
How to reduce stress before exams
That moment when you know your exams are going to begin in the next few days, those can be essentially stressful. There might be a thousand things going on in your mind, especially when the exam is in offline mode with the nation on the verge of hiking cases. If you constantly find yourself stressed and panicking about the exams, try this:
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a way to get rid of whatever effects stress has on our body, the stress related tension your body holds. It typically begins by contraction the muscles from one extremity (e.g. feet) to other (the face). Begin by contracting and building tension in the muscles of your feet, hold for 10 seconds, then release.
Do this with every set of muscles like the calf, thigh, pelvic, stomach, chest and neck. This is very often used in patients with anxiety and mood disorders and is a great way to get rid of the tension.
Diaphragmatic breathing for exam stress
Begin by taking a comfortable posture, sit or lie down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Now breathe through the nose and actively expand your stomach, breathe out through puckered lips. Take deep and timely breaths, pay attention on your breath.
Repeat this at least 10 times and by the end of each breath, you’ll find yourself in a deeper relaxation state.
Relieve exam stress
All that anxiety, worry, and tension which precedes any examination or assessment is exam stress. It can have disastrous effects on our mind and body, and affects our overall functioning. But there are ways to deal with such conditions (also mentioned in positive psychology) effectively and through the power of our own mind.
It is normal to prioritize studying and rushing towards set academic goals during the exam time but not beneficial for our well being. Students normally develop a habit of neglecting other important things, like sleep, exercise and rest. This can be a big help when you’re looking for ways to reduce exam stress during preparation.
Being aware about your thoughts and actively engaging with them is another way to reduce stress during exam. Most of us get into the habit of catastrophizing thoughts, constantly thinking negatively about the past exams, exams that are going to take place. So being mindful can be one way to deal with exam stress.
Exams are going to take place for a major portion of our life, and that is why it’s important to train ourselves to reduce exam stress, deal with exam anxiety. This would enhance our performance and help when preparing for any exam. It’s normal to get stressed and neglect all our self care needs during these times, but it also affects your wellbeing. Follow through these techniques and find your own, what helps you when you feel strained, explore ways to stay positive during exams. And most importantly, take care of your mental health.