Exam Stress – how do we overcome it?

It is nearing that time of year, where students world-wide buckle down and prepare to take some of the most important exams of their school life. At a time like this, where the world is suffering from a pandemic, additional pressure is dumped onto the backs of those students. The worry of resorting to predicted grades has created a toll on all youths sitting their A-Levels and O-Levels, pushing them to study during every spare moment of the day so they can pass their monthly assessments and midterms, both of which will contribute to their final grade.

 The students who can keep up find themselves hitting “submit assignment” at least once every hour, promising themselves that after submitting one more, they would take a break- they never do. For others, the angry, red “past due” signs haunt them every time they open their Teams, reminding them that the opportunity cost of going to the family dinner and their aunt’s wedding was two late assignments.

Amidst this chaos, stress is on the rise, and the fear and nerves are building up.

Many students collapse. They break down, faint and some even end up sick. Between the newly created online training regime for their sports, their clubs and their assignments, they are constantly thinking about one thing or the other, guilt gnawing at them when they take their well-deserved break.

So how can we take care of ourselves? Though we need to study, we also need to look after our mental health, as well as our physical wellbeing. There are many ways to overcome stress, and here are a few to help you get started.

First and foremost, make sure that you are eating and sleeping well. Covid-19 has had a severe impact on both, so it is important you are taking in the correct nutrients and allowing your body to recharge so you can tackle your problems with a fresh mind and an energised body.

Next, you shouldn’t confine yourself to sitting at your desk from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed. Stretch your legs, take a walk, do some exercise, even if it means a brief stroll around your house. More importantly, rest your eyes too. It’s never healthy to be staring at a bright screen for long periods of time so do be sure to take breaks and look at something green as it relaxes your eyes.

Understand that you cannot be perfect. Understand that giving up two hours of sleep to go over “mitochondria is the power house of a cell” is not practical. Understand that while the stress and pressure is very much there, worrying over every little thing only increases it.

Allow yourself to escape the seemingly never ending stack of textbooks and assignments and deadlines. Relax, call some friends, watch a movie, take a Panadol for that headache that never seems to go away and just breathe. Every well-known piece of music has rests, intervals of silence, in them- that’s what makes them amazing. Go get some rest.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

  • Anne Lamott
- Nethra Vigneswaran