Amy from our Wellbeing Team shares some useful tips to help you cope with exam stress.
It is normal to feel a little bit of stress (some level of stress can help you focus), but too much of it can lead you to feel out of control and can make it harder for you to take in information. When we feel stressed, the fight or flight response is activated. This may cause fatigue, difficulty in getting up, poor appetite and increased irritability if maintained for long periods of time.
Here are some tips to help you cope with stress:
1. Know how you work
It is important that you are aware of where and when you work best. Think about the time of the day that you feel most alert, the place that makes you focus most and where you feel calmest. Perhaps you could alternate your work space to keep revision fresh and to avoid boredom.
2. Get to bed early
Revising late at night can make it very hard for you to get up for the actual exam, not to mention that it isn’t good for your health! Ensure you have done some revision before dinner and stop revising 1 hour before sleep, so that your brain has a chance to switch off.
3. Don’t compare
Avoid comparing your knowledge with friends before or after the exam. Just because they appear to know more, does not mean that they actually do, or that they will do better in the exam. Comparing will only make you or your friends panic about things you can’t change.
4. Eat well
A quick fast food fix may look tempting when you are up late revising. However, your body and brain need proper fuel for revision. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, swap chocolate snacks for high protein nuts, and try not to consume too much caffeine to ensure good quality sleep.
Read our blog for tips on how to eat well on a budget.
5. Reward yourself
Factor revision breaks into your study time to rest your brain. Reward yourself with something you enjoy, be it a short walk in the sunshine, 20 minutes of your favourite TV show or a chapter of a book. It will motivate you to concentrate on your revision.
It can seem like you don’t have the time to exercise when you are revising, but it actually makes you more productive afterwards! It helps you to de-stress and releases feel-good endorphins. Try walking, going to the gym, or going for a jog. Have you tried Cardiff University Sport services?
7. Recognise stress signals
If you are feeling stressed, take a break and talk to someone. If you feel yourself starting to panic, stop what you are doing and take deep breaths; breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Do this until you begin to feel calmer.
8. Exams are just exams (and that’s coming from us!)
Although they can feel immeasurably important, there is more to being successful than your exam performance. Remember that you worked hard and that you can’t change anything after you have sat the exam.
Watch our Relaxation videos for some techniques to help you reduce stress
Workshops could help!
The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing service run workshops that could help you overcome exam anxiety, stress and procrastination:
Dealing with Exam Anxiety (Online), Tuesday 9 January
Mindfulness for Exams (Online), Wednesday 10 January
Mindfulness Drop-in Exam Stress Workshops, Wednesday 17 and 24 January
If you don’t want to attend a workshop, some of these will be carried out online so you can learn strategies from the comfort of your home.
Check out more of our exam advice and tips
Contacting Counselling Health and Wellbeing
If you are finding things difficult at the moment and you would like further support, please know that the Cardiff University Support Services are here for you – there is no problem too big or too small, and we offer a range of flexible support options including:
- Self-help resources
- Peer Support
- Wellbeing Workshops
- Courses and Groups
- Wellbeing Walk-in: Drop-in Service running Monday- Friday, 15:00-15:45, and Wednesday, 09:30-10:15
- Counselling and Wellbeing Appointments
- Face to Face, Online or Telephone
- Bookable appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire.
Watch our video to meet our friendly and approachable staff, who will listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options.
Your feedback and help please
Have you found this blog post useful? Please help us by commenting in the bar below, and note any questions there too.
Amy, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.