Exam preparation and stress can almost be said to go hand in hand. However, while everyone experiences stress surrounding exams, it can affect some more intensely than others. In extreme cases, it can have negative effects on students and should be paid attention to.
In this article, we will discuss why mental health is so important during exam preparation and provide you with some useful stress management strategies that will assist you during this time.
Why is Mental Health Important for Students
While mental health has not always been a focal point, it has come to light that mental health can play a large role in the success or failure of students.
Those who struggle with mental health can find it difficult to study, focus, and retain information. Further than this, it can cause great amounts of stress and even anxiety. This can lead to students experiencing forgetfulness during exams.
More than this, there will always be stressful times in life. Whether it be an exam, a large project at work, paying bills, and more.
It’s, therefore, important to pay attention to your mental health and learn how to manage the stress you might be experiencing.
Mental Health Check-In for Students
It’s important to regularly check in with yourself to ensure you are mentally healthy and ready to take on the world. This is particularly important during the examination period as you will typically be under more stress. Some of the symptoms to keep an eye on during this time include:
- Moodiness that is uncharacteristic.
- An increase in negativity.
- A loss or increase in appetite.
- Difficulty with falling asleep or restless sleep.
- A reduction in or lack of motivation to study.
- Struggling to find joy in hobbies or typically enjoyable activities.
- Sore and tense muscles.
- An increase in headaches.
How to Prepare for Exams and Maintain Mental Health
When studying for exams, there are a multitude of methods, practices, and approaches you can utilise to help you maintain good mental health.
Get Enough Sleep
We know it can be tempting to play games, watch series, or scroll on TikTok till late at night after a long day of studying.
However, this will not only reduce your quality of sleep but also prevent you from getting a full 8 hours of sleep. This can lead to a cycle of exhaustion that will only lead to more negative thoughts and issues with concentration.
Try to ensure that you get 8 hours of sleep a night and switch off all electronics an hour before going to bed. Instead, rather try reading, drawing, or another calming activity.
It can also be useful to go to bed at the same time each evening. This will help your body get into a rhythm and you will automatically start feeling sleepy around that time.
Try to Avoid Coffee
Caffeine is well known for its energy-boosting properties, but it can also cause energy lows. While caffeine has been shown to have positive effects on memory, it should be consumed in small doses and should preferably be natural and organic.
Therefore, large amounts of coffee will provide you with a burst of energy, but this will not last long, after which, it will cause you to crash and feel worse than before.
However, water can actually be more effective at giving you energy and helping you focus over long periods of time. This is because physical and mental fatigue can be linked to dehydration.
Consequently, if you really enjoy coffee, we suggest only drinking a cup in the morning when you wake up and try not to consume caffeine for a few hours before going to bed as this can also affect your quality of sleep.
Consume Healthy Foods
While it’s advisable to eat as healthy as possible at all times, we know that this is not always possible. However, during exam season, it’s important to try and make a concerted effort to stick to a healthy diet plan.
Healthy food can help boost energy and can even positively affect brain function. Certain superfoods which have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and mackerel, have been shown to positively affect memory and energy levels.
You can read more about superfoods that have been linked to increased brain function here.
Make Time for Fun
It’s extremely important to make time for yourself, where you can have fun and unwind. Part of maintaining mental health is to ensure that you still derive enjoyment from life.
While 2 months of preparing for and writing exams might not seem long in the greater scheme of things, it can be detrimental to have no enjoyment during this time.
Therefore, try to schedule time for enjoyment. Not only will this help you stay positive, but it will also give you something to look forward to when you are busy studying.
Contact a Counsellor
If you do feel your mental health deteriorating and cannot seem to find a way to improve it, it’s advisable to seek help. If you are able, try to contact and book a session with a counsellor. They will be able to provide you with some management strategies to help you towards a happier and healthier state of mind.
If you cannot contact a counsellor, try to talk to someone you trust. This can be a friend, family member, or even a teacher.
Try Some Relaxation Techniques
Continuing on the topic of stress management strategies, it could be beneficial to include some relaxation techniques in your daily life. For immediate tension relief, you can try breathing techniques. You can also include meditation in your daily routine. Meditation can be a fantastic way to start your day and set intentions for what you would like to accomplish.
You can also try a relaxing form of exercise such as yoga. This will help stretch out your body and release the tension in your muscles.
If yoga isn't for you, a walk around the block can also be a great way to clear your head and relax a little before returning to your studies.
One of the main causes of stress, anxiety, and mental health issues during the exam period is struggling to understand the course material. If you have been experiencing difficulty with understanding certain concepts and are feeling as if you are lost, then it can cause feelings of unease and even demotivation.
A tutor will be able to guide you towards an understanding of concepts and help you gain confidence in your abilities. Once you know you are comfortable with the concepts contained in your course material, you will find it much easier to study and retain information.
At CambriLearn we offer tutoring for a range of subjects, ensuring that you always have extra support should you need it during exam preparation.