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We’ve all felt the heavy weight that exam stress brings. Whilst these times can be daunting, it’s important not to let the exam pressure take over: coping with exam stress is a lot less difficult than you might think.
No matter who you are, it is likely you would have suffered from a bit of exam phobia at least once in your life. The fear of failing, and the expectation to do well can really affect a person’s mental wellbeing. Not only can exam stress have a heavy impact on your mental health, but it can also stop you from achieving your best results.
According to NHS England, exam stress symptoms can include the following: poor sleep, a bad diet, a lack of hope for the future, and a negative mood. Together, all of these symptoms can result in poor study skills which, in turn, can cause a person to feel even more stressed about exams. However, there is a way to cope with these exam worries, so that you don’t have to let the stress take over.
Exercising is a great way to reduce some of that exam anxiety. Although the gym might not be your favourite thing in the world, there are plenty of exercises out there which you can do for free, at home, in your own time. According to Birmingham City University, exercise can dramatically change your mindset: working out increases your levels of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. A more positive outlook makes it easier to tackle tricky exam notes, rather than despairing and giving up.
Exercise can also help with your study skills, as regularly exercising can improve memory retention: physical activity releases endorphins, which Birmingham City University claims improves memory and strengthens brain-building hormones.
Although it’s vital that you have a balanced diet at all times, this is of extra importance if you want to manage your exam stress. Considering that dealing with exam stress can be tiresome enough (Medical News have drawn a clear pattern between chronic stress and emotional exhaustion), you don’t want to be low on any nutrients that could have negative repercussions on your health. Iron rich foods, such as red meats, green leafy vegetables, beans, wholegrains, nuts and dried fruits are good to consume if you’re feeling a little low on energy. If you want further instructions as to what a healthy diet consists of, the NHS Eat Well guide contains key information on how to eat a balanced diet.
Having a healthy diet isn’t just about what you consume – it’s when you consume it which also counts. Although you might have overslept after a night of cramming material into your brain, don’t skip out on breakfast. A healthy breakfast, such as a green smoothie, eggs on wholegrain toast, or porridge gives you all the essential minerals and vitamins that you need to start your day off right. This little energy boost sets you up for a productive day, as you are less likely to feel sluggish and tired.
One of the most important things to remember when managing exam stress is that you’re not alone. Talking with friends who are going through the same thing, or family members who have already been through it, can be really helpful. If you’d rather speak with someone on a less personal level, then school teachers or school counsellors are always there to guide you, should you feel the exam burden becomes too heavy to bear.
If you know someone who’s going through a stressful patch at the moment, it is important to remain supportive, and encourage them if they start to lose hope. Although overloading them with sugar is not a good way to spur them on (a sugar crash would be inevitable) offering treats every now and then can be a nice little pick me up. Give them a good luck gift of our 40% Milk Chocolate Puddles offer a burst of chocolate indulgence, in miniature form. If you’re wary about sugar levels then our 100 % Dark Chocolate Batons offer a deep, sumptuous cocoa fix, perfect for nibbling on when revision motivation is running low.