Deadlines are looming, Edinburgh skies are glooming, stress levels are mounting, Christmas why aren’t you coming? Today I thought I’d share some of the ways I try to combat exam season stress and make it through with all my grades and my hair intact.
1. Give yourself time to decompress
I usually find it ridiculously hard to fall asleep during exam season – my brain somehow suddenly gets the memo to go into overdrive and refuses to quiet down, and then I get stressed, and then I can’t fall asleep, and then I waste precious sleep time, and then I get even more stressed. It’s one vicious laundry cycle. I find it increasingly hard to stop thinking about my deadlines, or letting go of how I felt through the course of the day.
So if I’m in a rut like that, I love to do one thing – watch a film. Nothing else takes me away from my immediate woes so readily. A couple of times a week my flatmate and I will load up a movie on Netflix to watch after dinner and just relax on the couch. We also love to make use of the Monday deal at the Omnicentre – every showing is just £3.99. Bargain.
2. Set a goal for each day and stick to it
I am an obsessive planner, and if I haven’t broken down all of my tasks for each assignment I feel lost and anxious. I have to break down all of my deadlines into smaller tasks – for an essay I’ll usually break it down into reading, planning, writing, and editing, and then I’ll break down the tasks into the amount of days they’ll take. If a busy period is coming up, at the beginning of the week I’ll assign tasks to do each day.
Try and keep these daily goals very realistic, and within your limits. I usually only schedule in work that I can do between 1-6 each day, because I know that the afternoon hours are when I focus best. I’ve found that doing this eases a lot of mental pressure – I know what I’m doing that day as soon as I wake up, and as long as I finish the tasks set out for the day, I don’t need to stress over how much more I should be doing.
3. Do something that refreshes your mind
Mine is cleaning the flat (my flatmates love me). I find that if I take three hours to give my flat a good clean, I come out of it so much more refreshed – like my brain’s been reset.
Of course, this won’t be the same for everyone. But I really recommend finding something that re-energises you. Maybe it’s going to the gym, on a run, walking around a museum, or listening to an album all the way through. Find it, and don’t be afraid to take it. Once I got rid of the mindset that deadline season means I need to be at the library for 12 hours a day, I’ve stopped letting exams linger in every step I take. And my body, skin, and mood has thanked me for it.