Top tips to tackle exam stress

student studying at a desk

The end of session brings with it many things – holidays, parties, and worst of all, exams. Exam time is one of the most stressful periods of the year and, if you let it get out of hand, that stress can develop into many things including anxiety and depression.

Dr Fredrik Velander is a mental health expert from CSU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences and says “Studying for a major test is a time when you can feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, and you can really question the meaning of things”.

Here are some of Dr Velander’s tips to help you control your stress levels and with any luck, get that top mark you are hoping for!

Structure and organise your time with a list of priorities

It is vital to remain organised at a time where you could have three exams in five days – how do you know which one to study for!? Try writing a list of what you need to study most compared to what subject you already know the most about.

Don’t “binge-study”

You have a major exam tomorrow so you plan to study for five hours straight… Don’t! This will put unnecessary pressure on you and when you find yourself procrastinating, it will lead to self-directed anger. Break up your study into productive periods to ensure you remain focused.

Exercise

It may sound obvious but it is highly important to make time to exercise and get out in the natural world when you’re otherwise spending hours in a dark room studying. You can sync these exercise periods with your study breaks and kill two birds with the one stone. Dr Marissa Samuelson is a nutrition and dietetic expert at CSU and says “if you’re feeling stressed, reach for your walking shoes, not the lolly jar. Highly processed foods and drinks like lollies, chocolate and soft drink will just leave you feeling flat and lethargic.”

Maintain a hobby

Don’t abandon your outside life for study. Make sure you keep doing what you love and keep a level of enjoyment in your life (No, this does not include alcohol).

Keep a clean study environment

Studying in a room with clothes on the floor, half-eaten sandwiches on the desk and dirty laundry on your bed is NOT healthy. If you have time, cleaning the area you are studying in will make you feel better about yourself and lead to a more productive study session.

For more dietary advice, visit the Australian Dietary Guidelines website. For support and mental health advice, contact Headspace online or over the phone on 1800 650 890.