Fabulous Friday: Five Ways to De-Stress During Exams

For those who have clicked on this because you're avoiding looking at your study material... this is for you :)

It is that time of year again! Final assignments, exams, the pointy end of the semester stick...Your stress levels may be mounting and you realise just how much you missed all semester.  Even if you're all over it, something about exam block clogs pores and leads to internal panic...

It doesn't have to be that way! Here are a five quick tips to get you through the end of semester stress period:

1. Get out and move!

One thing that has a tendency to evaporate during an exam block is people's commitment to exercise.  When you realise you have X amount of hours left before an exam, spending an hour running around doesn't seem like good value...

But it is! Take half an hour out of your morning or evening, go for a run, skip, do random push ups, kick or throw a ball around - that change of scenery and the release of endorphins which will definitely help your mood and give you a burst of motivation for the remainder of the study period.

Dosage: Daily or every two days is recommended.

2. Clear your commitments

Let people know that you won't be readily available for the next little while.

Give people advanced notice if you have commitments that you won't be readily available.  Set up an automatic reply on your email.  Most of your friends are probably in the same boat so they will should understand.  If you can take time off work, it is probably a good idea.

It helps when you can be focused on your study rather than being pulled away by various other commitments, breaking your concentration.  It's all about being in the study zone.  

Dosage: Take a large dosage of commitment clearing at the beginning and it should last a couple of weeks.  Supplement the study zone with a teaspoon of sweet tunes.

3. Get a decent amount of sleep. ESPECIALLY the night before.

Rule of thumb? Try to get at least 7 + hours of sleep the night before the exam. Even if you don't know the content, your brain will work MUCH better with the little that it knows if you are well rested than if you are zombie-walking-sleep-deprived.

When you get to that point in the early hours of the morning where your brain doesn't seem to absorb anything and you've re-read the same line five times...cut your losses and head to bed.  You'll be much more efficient in the morning :)

It's called sharpening the saw.

[box] Stephen Covey tells the story of meeting someone who has been sawing down a tree for more than 5 hours. When you suggest that they take a break and sharpen their saw so the job might go faster they tell you they don't have time to sharpen the saw because they're too busy sawing! (From 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) [/box]

4. Try to eat decent food.

It helps.  It will also reduce guilt down the line.

Recommended study foods for brain and waistband purposes: Fish, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, apples and berries.  Here's a good source.

Oh yeah and dark chocolate...

Essentially, don't live on noodles.  If you must, at least add frozen vegies to make it slightly nutritious.

Dosage: Regular meals are recommended.  Don't forget to keep a water bottle with you at all times! It's all about hydration.  

5. You only need to know 85% of the content for a HD.

You can't learn it all.

One of the best pieces of advice that I was ever given about exams was that even the High Distinction grade isn't 100%.  Why?

Because there is just so much content, you can't realistically be expected to learn and remember it all.

It's actually a freeing concept.  Be strategic in your study.  Will hours spent learning how to manually multiply 4 x 4 matrices actually give you a decent percentage increase on the exam?  Perhaps those four hours are better spent bedding down that other concept that you weren't too sure about...

So learn what you need to and can in the time you are given, but realise that it isn't the end of the world if you don't know every single thing.  It'll be right :)

So study hard, but not too hard.  I can honestly barely remember what I got for most of my subjects, let alone individual exams.  It's not the end of the world (although it may feel like it).  Just do your best...and enjoy ;)

See you at the other end!