Are you feeling Exam Stress Burn Out?
For many of us, the first day of June brings happiness and excitement for that much needed holiday, for brighter and (slightly) warmer days and maybe (HOPEFULLY) a little less rain. However, you’re a Junior or Leaving Cert student, your reality may feel very different. Whether you are a super studier or simply just focused on getting these exams out of the way, feeling under pressure, stressed or anxious is completely normal.
To help you get over the next couple of days and through the exams, we have compiled a couple of practical tips that may help you manage these unwanted feelings.
Your mental health is most important. So, if you’re experiencing panic attacks, ongoing low moods or you’re not sleeping, reach-out and tell a friend, teacher, parent or your GP how you are feeling. Often, simply by telling someone, things can feel easier to deal with. Once you get underway every exam will appear less daunting!
Exams will come and go. So too will the feeling of anxiety.
3Ts Hints and Tips
1. Identify your stressors
As the exams approach, it can feel like you’re trembling towards a dark and blurry haze of chaos!
Stress management starts with identifying the key source of your stress. By identifying specific things you are most worried about, you can take back that sense of control, whether that fear is of walking into the exam hall, not getting the grades you want or opening the exam paper to find the question you studied hasn’t come up.
Once you’ve identified what your own biggest worry, you can try to adjust your thinking to imagine things going your way. Not only does this boost your confidence, it provides you with positive thoughts when fear starts to fester.
2. Don’t compare yourself
This may be easier said than done but trust us, comparing yourself to others just makes everything worse and is a recipe for ruining your confidence. It doesn’t matter if your friend got grinds in every subject, spent 3 hours studying yesterday or if they got 7,000 points in their mock exams. This is no reflection on you nor how you will perform in the exam. So try not focus too much of your attention on what other people are doing. Instead, focus on what you can do with your own time over the next couple of days and leave the past in the past.
3. Prioritise your time
You can’t do everything. There are many blogs out there that will give you an extensive list on how to perform well in an exam. Study in a tidy space, organise your notes, reduce sugar / caffeine intake, turn off your phone, take vitamins etc etc. But while these tips are good, you’re only one person. By giving yourself a ton of rules and regulations, you could just be creating more stress and unhappiness for yourself.
Instead, try to be practical. Create a short-term schedule to get you to the end of your exams. Put in some study time that is relevant to the upcoming exam. And don’t forget to pencil in some time for you to do some things you enjoy. This could involve eating in your favourite restaurant or cooking, reading, watching Netflix, going for a walk or simply just lying on the couch to catch up on your Instagram newsfeed.
4. Avoid other stressed people
This is key! Have you ever felt confident and calm and then all of a sudden you are in a panic after meeting up with a friend who is super anxious and stressed? Stress can be contagious, especially when exams are approaching so to protect yourself from this, it might be a good idea to keep a distance until the exams are over. This doesn’t mean you are a bad friend, it just means that you are busy focusing on YOU until the exams are over.
5. Organise yourself
To avoid that frantic early morning panic when you can’t find your calculator, give yourself the benefit of taking 10 minutes to prepare yourself the night before. Get your clothes together, make some lunch and put all your essentials in your bag. Once you’re all packed up, you’re free to relax before bed knowing that you’re all set for tomorrow.
We have all heard this before but seriously, pulling that all-nighter and drinking 6 cans of Red Bull is just a waste of time and will leave you feeling burnt out. You may believe that studying late can reduce stress because you feel that you’re being proactive but lack of sleep can actually increase the feeling of dread and anxiety, not to mention effect your concentration the next day.
Get to bed at a reasonable hour and try not to spend too much time scrolling before bed.
These exams will not determine the rest of your life, take it from us! Of course, doing your best is important but your mental health should not be put at risk during the process. If panic strikes, take a minute to focus on your breathing, then reach out and tell someone close.
Most importantly, when you are finished these exams, make sure to reward yourself by doing something you love. You have just completed a huge milestone in your life and this is worth self-appraisal. Whatever that means to you and no matter how you feel you did in the exams, you deserve it!
These above tips can make a huge impact on your day to day life during the stressful exam period. If you would like some more information, we have some resources available.
Longstanding & trusted, Samaritans volunteers provide confidential support, befriending and listening to those in personal crisis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
• Helpline: Freephone 116 123 (callers from Rep of Ireland)
Suicide support service – free helpline & face to face counselling support. For information & branches nationwide, see pieta.ie
• Helpline (24hr): 1800 247 247
ChildLine is a free 24 hour counselling service for children and young people up to 19 years of age.
• Helpline (24hr Freephone): 1800 66 66 66
A helpline for young people who feel lonely, anxious, vulnerable, depressed or suicidal.
• Helpline (Freephone): 1800 833 634 (8pm-11pm)
For further helplines, see our website www.3ts.ie