Kick Exam Stress To The Curb: 5 Strategies To Remain Calm
The techniques that I have here today are things that don’t only apply to exam time, but also to many events where you’re under pressure. I’m currently writing this blog post during exam revision week, called SWOTVAC in Australia. It's basically it’s a time when students are given a whole week of self-study they can complete at home or in the comfort of there own work spaces. But this is a time where we all freak out, and get pretty highly strung.
We get angsty because we feel the pressure to study since exams are fast approaching, and we’re worried about what other people are studying and where we sit in comparison to them. Here are some tips that I use to overcome these unhelpful thoughts and tackle this exam period with chill.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN COMPETITOR
Unless you are studying for medicine, law or a competitive degree, (in which case, I’m sorry but that was your choice!) YOU are your own competitor, and you should only be striving to do well against your own standards. I used to be frantic about wanting to be the best at everything but since learning about building the foundations of my health coaching project (which is underway!), it’s given me this bigger perspective to step back and realise, it’s literally only university!
This applies to all events, whether you’re sitting exams or not. Whether you’re a juice maker, blogger or fitness competitor, focus on your own progress and how far you’ve come from day one.
FIND COMFORT IN “PASSING"
Although you may want to do better than a pass, I feel that I have done a lot better when I surrender the thought of having to get a high mark and just study with the aim firstly 'to pass'. Usually, from there, I naturally build momentum to want to do better. It’s going with the flow rather than setting a standard which seems far away from your current standpoint. Let me explain this a little better.
- Scenario 1: you tell yourself you MUST get 90% averages on all your subjects.
- CONSEQUENCE: you feel pressured, stressed out, like the goal seems hard to reach and like you just want to flip the table.
- Scenario 2: you tell yourself your aim is to pass, and to just get started to reaching that goal
- CONSEQUENCE: you study a little, feel like it’s not actually that bad, then continue studying. You’re secretly overdelivering to yourself and as you do, you’re further encouraged to continue studying and working hard.
If you’re not doing exams, yet are in a high pressure situation, give yourself a lower standard and slowly work from there and allow yourself to overachieve to build momentum for your ultimate goal.
TURN YOUR BLINDERS ON
There’s a reason horses that pull carriages in Melbourne CBD have blinders. It’s so that whenever there is the potential to see a car that may frighten them, they stay focussed on their path and aren’t distracted by how fast that car may zoom past them. It’s the same with humans, don’t worry about what other people are doing and how fast they are travelling, as it can lead you to getting freaked out and being less productive.
Take this concept and apply it to yourself whenever you feel overwhelmed with having to deliver. In the case of exams, I tend to go into a little bubble and study on my own to master concepts (my blinders are on). When I feel confident with certain things, that’s when I turn them off to discuss with friends and link concepts together. Come exam day, however, I put my blinders back on and try to avoid people who are trying to nut out last minute questions.
Aside from exams, if you’re in an instrumental competition, listen to music through your headphones so you can’t hear everyone warming up. If you’re a blogger or Youtuber, stop watching other people’s videos in the same field as yours if they are starting to distract your vibe or the integrity of your vision.
VISUALISE YOUR SUCCESS
Let's talk about visualisation. I have been practising this for a while now, and I think it 100% helps in your success with whatever you do. It seems a little “out there” so I haven’t written a blog post about it just yet, but I recently became more comfortable to talk about it when one of my lecturers actually brought this technique up with us in a clinical practical. (This is also the same lecturer who was a GP, now naturopath, who I have interviewed for his unique view on health - more news on that soon!) His words were of the effect: "visualise yourself smashing your exam. Many fighters in the arena practice this technique and they attest to it being a huge part of their success." So if you’re reading this before your exam or big event, start VISUALISING what would happen, how you would feel confident, how you could answer every single question. Dream big and don’t judge yourself for whatever your visualise.
FIND CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF
The last thing to do is finally to have confidence that you have done everything you can to study and prepare for your exam or big event. I love taking the time to meditate, so it is a definitely a habit I would do on the exam day itself. Another tip: only interact with those who uplift you on the day and vibe with positivity.
I hope these strategies help you with dealing with this exam period!
Also an update, if you love wellness, I've just started a Youtube channel all based on inspiration for living a wellness lifestyle. If you're curious, I've got a short intro video to my channel just below.