Top Tips to Cope with Exam Stress

As the exam season is nearing, MBA Student Kirstin Bell shares her top tips to stay productive and cope with stress during this period.

Being well prepared for your exams and coursework submissions is the best way to relieve the stress and anxiety associated with them. It also gives you the chance at getting the best outcomes. However, this can be easier said than done sometimes. That’s why I’ve put together some tips and tricks to optimise your study time and help get you prepared for those looming deadlines!

Don’t Work from Your Bed

Woman studying in bed - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

It can be super tempting to just grab your laptop and get some work done from the comfort and warmth of your bed. Especially since the majority of us are working and studying from home because of the pandemic. However, it’s really important to separate your work and resting places (where possible). Working from your bed will make it harder to switch off when you need to rest or go to sleep.

Get Dressed Every Day

Dressing up - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

Again, it’s super easy to roll out of bed and jump on your laptop in your pyjamas. But taking the time to get dressed when you get up will make you feel more prepared for the day. It means that there’s no time wasted in getting ready later if you need to nip to the shop or attend that “out the blue” zoom call!

You wouldn’t go to the library or a lecture in your pyjamas. So try not to study from home in them either. Getting ready for the day is an easy thing to tick off your to-do list. This means that you’ve already achieved something before sitting down to study! I love seeing ticks on our to-do list. It definitely motivates me to keep going.

Organise your Thoughts

Making a to-do list - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

Exams and coursework can be overwhelming and stressful. There might be many conflicting deadlines and priorities flying about in your head. In addition to this, you might have to fit in social zoom calls, exercise, cooking and sorting “that chair” of clothes you’ve not yet put away. So, organise your thoughts every day. Write your to-do list and identify your priorities. It will help clear your head and make your goals more achievable.

It’s also so satisfying striking something off! You could also re-evaluate your to-do list at the end of every day. Write down what you still need to do and add any new tasks for the following day. This allows you to relax once you’ve put your laptop away, as you’re already prepared for the next time you’re studying. Ways to organise your thoughts include:

  • Writing a to-do list
  • Bullet journaling
  • Mind Mapping
  • Allocating time slots to specific areas of study/tasks

Remember to be realistic with what you can achieve in a day! RGU also has a dedicated Study Support Services team who can offer support and advice across a range of study skills to ensure you feel confident and prepared to take on your assignments.

Take Breaks

Woman stretching - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

Taking breaks is imperative to keeping your focus and completing tasks. Something as simple as taking five minutes to make a cup of tea or doing some stretches gives you a quick screen break and time to re-focus.

You can use the Pomodoro technique to train your brain to focus for short periods of time. First, choose the task you want to complete. Then set the alarm for every 25 minutes and start working. Once the alarm goes off allow yourself to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat the process 4 times and then let yourself have a 15-minute break. Do it as many times as you need to complete the task.

Speak to Someone

Woman speaking on her phone - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

Feeling overwhelmed because of exams? Make sure to speak to someone about how you’re feeling. It could be a friend, family member, course leader, lecturer, teacher or counsellor.

If you are struggling and need to speak to someone then please reach out to RGU’s counselling and wellbeing team. The Student Counselling & Wellbeing Centre has Counsellors and a Student Wellbeing Advisor who can talk over issues that may be concerning you. As an RGU student, you will also have access to Silvercloud, a platform with 24/7 online mental health self-help programmes to help with anxiety, stress, depression and body image.

Reward Yourself

Woman eats a snack as a reward after  studying - How to cope with stress - RGU Student Blog

You deserve to reward yourself for the work and revision you’ve done! It’s a good way to stay motivated and reduce stress. It also keeps your spirit that bit higher since you’ve got something positive to look forward to. Ways to reward yourself could include:

  • A tasty snack
  • A sweet per page you write or read
  • A nap
  • Watch an episode of your favourite Netflix series
  • Gaming
  • Doing a hobby
  • Listen to your favourite playlist and have a dance party
  • FaceTime/Zoom a friend
  • Getting outside
  • Listening to a podcast

Taking a break and rewarding yourself go hand in hand. Either way, make sure to give yourself some time to relax whilst you’re getting prepared for exams and coursework deadlines.

Turn off your Phone

Woman studying after putting phone away

It’s so easy to be distracted by your phone. Don’t we all know it? There’s always something to check on social media or a message to reply to that seems way more appealing than the work you’re doing. But let’s be honest, if we just put our phones in a different room for even 45 minutes at a time, our productivity would soar! It’s really easy to lose track of time, especially when scrolling through TikTok, so try to set some boundaries with your phone and know you can scroll stress-free once you’ve smashed your to-do list.

These are just a few ways to manage your mental health when it comes to deadlines and exams, but there are so many others. Good luck!

Kirstin Bell

What are your top tips to cope with exam stress? Tell us in the comments below!

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