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Managing Stress During Exams

This article is part of Roar’s collaboration with the Positive Peers this Take Time In, which is KCLSU’s campaign on 4-21 May to support positive wellbeing for students online during this exam period.

Stress could be a motivator, but also your worst enemy. As students, we know that the stress that comes during exam season may be overwhelming at times, and completely hinder our ability to make any meaningful work. But fret not, there are ways to manage stress — by looking after own wellbeing.

Imagine yourself as a bucket, and that stress is gradually filling the container, with your coping strategies acting as a tap. If the tap is regularly opened to release stress, then the bucket would never overflow and we would never be overwhelmed. So, we should ask, what are your coping strategies?

Get moving. Any form of physical activity would be a good chance for you to step away from your screen, be it going for a quick run, doing a home workout, yoga, or simply going on a stroll. We know that exercise is good for our physical health, but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety.

‘Me’ time. Sometimes, it is easy to forget to dedicate some time to yourself. Pursuing your hobbies and favourite activities can help boost your mood in stressful times. Some people enjoy cooking, baking, cleaning, watching Netflix, playing games, and so on. But most importantly, do what makes you feel good.

Setting boundaries. Establishing boundaries to what things you pay attention to or spend energy on is important to avoid burnout. Know when your plate is getting full, acknowledge that you can’t possibly be expected to do everything in the world, and politely decline additional responsibilities.

Sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is not only important to re-energise for the next day, but it also largely affects our mood and ability to handle stress. Try to set a reminder an hour before your bedtime so you get to wind down – that includes stopping work/revision and reducing screen time. This will increase your likelihood of getting some good quality sleep (which you deserve!).

Revision schedule. A more exam-oriented tip for managing stress is to set a daily revision schedule. Set realistic and attainable goals so that you are constantly motivated throughout the day to check things off your to-do-list.

Remember that these coping strategies aren’t you ‘procrastinating’ or being ‘lazy’. Taking care of your wellbeing is vital to prevent stress from overpowering you. Remind yourself that a moderate amount of stress may be motivating, but when it becomes overwhelming, you would be unable to carry out any meaningful work.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. So, give our tips a try and explore the activities that work best for you. There’s no one size fits all!

If you’d like to pick up more tips and tricks to look after your wellbeing, join the Positive Peers’ Thrive sessions! You can also check out the Positive Peers website and the KCLSU Wellbeing Hub to explore what’s on offer.

Chin Kei (CK) Ma
Yun Wai (Andrea) Foo

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