When I was in high school, school was my major source of stress. I would freak out knowing that I had three tests for that week, or I would feel extremely tensed fearing that I would get an unsatisfactory grade for a test. Sometimes, stress are helpful as they would allow you to be more productive. Nonetheless, being too stressed out would inevitably harm your mental health or even physical health, and this would decrease your productivity too. Here are some tips on dealing with stress to make sure you have the perfect condition for studying and taking exams.
When you are feeling particularly stressed at the moment (e.g. you fail to concentrate, you start to show some physical symptoms, or you feel like you are emotionally unstable), immediate relieve is necessary. Here are some examples that may help.
1. Take a short break, but don’t procrastinate.
There are a lot of people (including me) who would procrastinate whenever we are stressful. We would tell ourselves that it’s time to take a break and go on Instagram or Youtube, but then two hours would pass by without us noticing. This is a sign when stress decreases your productivity.
To tackle this problem, try to take short breaks instead of long breaks. Going on your phone is definitely not the best way to spend your breaks (or the worst actually). Try walking around, drink a cup of tea, have a little bit snack, or have a short workout session. All these are very healthy and comforting alternatives, and they won’t take up a lot of time. Staying away from the internet during breaks would definitely help your studying progress. It’s also the best way to de-stress since you can take your mind off studying for a while.
2. Study with a friend.
Studying with friends is very effective if you are someone who would overthink and feel anxious when you are alone. Having a friend beside you means you can have someone to help you with the school work, meanwhile knowing that it is not the end of the world when you don’t understand something – because others probably don’t get it as well. It always eases my nerves whenever I know that there are people who are on the same boat as me. Studying with a friend also means he/she can motivate you (though you have to make sure you have picked the right friend), and hence transfer your negativity to a positive motivation and drive.
3. Fake it till you make it.
Believe it or not, this actually works. When you have 5 minutes before you have to enter into the exam hall, and you are super nervous, telling yourself that you can ace the exam definitely helps. It boosts your confidence so you will be more eager to complete the exam paper. The same works for studying. Telling yourself that you can defnitely finish this chapter today will keep you moving. Act like you study and absorb the information, and you will be able to do it. After all, the most difficult part of studying is getting started.
Stress, however, doesn’t just come at a certain moment. It’s about your mindset as a whole and how you personally face different problems. Better long-term strategies should be employed to make sure you have a positive mindset and are well-planned for different challenges.
1. Change your attitude towards studying.
You attitude is most likely the reason why you are stressing out. To me, I find that as my attitude towards studying change to a more positive one, my grades go up and I am less stressed. I have received messages (on Tumblr) that students are freaking out because they are worried that they won’t get a satisfying grade to please their parents, to get an award, or to compete with other classmates. When you are so focused on the end result and the consequences of it, studying loses its meaning and you would think that everything you do is about the result. Once you get an unsatisfactory grade, you would think that all your hard work went down the drain. Eventually, negativity and stress may build up and study is no longer something that you want to do, and you would loose all the motivation.
So you may ask what should one think about studying? When I was in the last two years of high school, everyone in my grade felt very stressful as we are going to have a university entrance exam that is going to determine our future – whether we can go to university. There are people who are worn out because of the stress of this exam, and there are people who gain brilliant results with the motivation of this exam. The question is, how to transform bad stress to good one.
What I thought back then was: do not make yourself regret in the future. Once you have tried your very best during the process of preparing for the exam, let the result be since there is nothing to regret anymore. With that, I find myself less stressed by the possible consequences of getting good/bad results. More importantly, I started to enjoy studying realizing that I am getting gratification from the small steps I made and the improvements I observed from myself. This sense of accomplishment doesn’t just come from getting good results, but from how much effort I put into studying and the progress of me improving. As the saying goes, If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
2. Make your own study routine so you can be more prepared.
To prevent stressing out when you are a few days away from the test, the key is to make sure that you start planning early. Having your goals in your mind right at the start of the course/semester would help you keep track of your progress. There are a few things you may consider doing in order to start your preparation right
- You can revise according to the teaching schedule. As your teachers finished a chapter, you should have understood the whole chapter and did some corresponding practice questions. This will make sure that you have studied everything before the test (if your teacher does keep up with a good teaching schedule) and things won’t build up.
- If you are not someone who would like to study from the start of the term, make sure you still have an exam study plan. I would usually plan 1-3 months ahead of the exam, but this depends on the amount the material that will be examined. You can do this by:
- Work out a list of all the topics of different courses and the materials you would like to go through. For example, I would list out the topics on the left column, and have three different columns indicating class notes, textbook, practice paper. As I finished studying the class notes of that topic, I would check the corresponding box. With that list, I would clearly know what study materials and topics I have already gone through
- Print some monthly printables. Write down all your prior commitments and then write down the study tasks according to your availability and capability. My usual way is to make sure that I, at least, study a little bit of every subject each week so that it won’t feel like I have to catch up a lot for one subject.
School or studying is not the major source of stress, but you are. Findings ways to alleviate the stress, and transform your stress to be something that can motivate you is the key. Not only will this help with your physical and mental health, but it will also be something that can help you achieve more.